By TIM SULLIVAN
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE
Posted by WTAFANS TEAM
Don't hate Anna Kournikova because she's beautiful. Not unless you're using a sliding scale.
Elizabeth Hurley is beautiful. Halle Berry is beautiful. But if you throw the word around too freely, it loses its meaning – the way "genius" does when applied to football coaches or "svelte" when applied to sportswriters.
Anna Kournikova is nice-looking, but she's no closer to beautiful than she is to winning Wimbledon. She's got that bouncy blond thing going for her, good skin and copious curves, but she's more packaging than content. If it weren't for the makeup, the stylists and the clingy clothes, her face would be hard-pressed to launch more than 950 ships.
She's gorgeous by the standards of professional tennis, which is like saying Tony Danza is a great actor for a guy who should be bagging groceries.
Yet if Kournikova's looks excite jealousy and create controversy, it's not because she's so much better looking than her fellow players, but because her celebrity bears no relation to her competitive results. The Internet's most downloaded athlete begins play in the Acura Classic today at La Costa as the world's 47th-ranked female tennis player. She has won exactly zero WTA Tour singles titles, but is probably the biggest star on the circuit.
She has become a cultural symbol of style over substance, the embodiment of glamour in a game that demands grit. Among less charitable minds, Kournikova is a pretty little joke whose every endorsement and modeling contract serves to trivialize more serious women athletes. When Fox's Rob Zimmerman sought to disparage MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield, he called her, "the Anna Kournikova of TV news."
That Kournikova's first-round meeting with 30th-ranked Alexandra Stevenson is being promoted on the Acura Classic's Web site as today's featured match is a reflection of our tastes rather than Kournikova's talent.
Sex sells. Superb ground strokes have a more limited appeal. An Internet search yesterday found links to 43 Kournikova Web sites, including "Adorable Anna Kournikova," "Amazingly Adorable Anna," "Lovely Anna" and "Anna Kournikova – the Goddess of Tennis." A similar search for Serena Williams – the world's top-ranked player – turned up only 10 sites, none of them predicated on her appearance.
Serena Williams' 2002 accomplishments include the French Open and Wimbledon singles titles. The biggest news Kournikova has made in the past year was in debunking a Penthouse pictorial that purported to show her topless.
"It's disturbing to see this emphasis on the objectified body as opposed to the active body," says former cyclist Laura Robinson, author of 'Black Tights: Women, Sport and Sexuality.' "Anna Kournikova will never make it as an athlete because she puts so much time into being a sex fantasy. Good athletes train two to three times a day and have little time for anything else."
While it's unclear exactly how much time Kournikova spends on her game, the clear consensus is that it's not enough. After Kournikova's first-round exit at Wimbledon, John McEnroe captured the prevailing cynicism about her play in a single, caustic sentence: "It's time for some serious reassessment and some serious practice." McEnroe, never one for understatement, also alleged Kournikova's nerves were shot, her confidence was gone and her conditioning was poor.
"I'm sure Anna would trade the publicity and glamour for a tournament win," echoed Chris Evert. "She has to start taking some responsibility for her tennis career. If she wants to make a success of it, she needs to get hungry and put tennis ahead of making videos and posing for magazine covers. She's gone to another level and people are obsessed with her looks, and that's dangerous territory."
The extent of that danger depends, at least in part, on your perspective. Evert was driven to chase championships. Kournikova may have a different motivation. Not every player can presume to be No. 1, though Kournikova appeared to have that potential when she stormed into the 1997 Wimbledon semifinals in just her fourth Grand Slam event.
Maybe our expectations of her exceed her ability as a tennis player. Maybe her tournament record is a reflection of her relative skill (and/or injuries) rather than her lack of commitment to her craft. Maybe she never was quite as good as she looked.
Friday, after a straight-sets loss to Venus Williams at Stanford, Kournikova believed she had made a breakthrough.
"I actually felt like I was in control on some of the points," she said. "That's a great step for me."
Progress, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Another journalist who doesn't know what he's talking about. :rolleyes:
Jul 30th, 2002, 01:42 PM
ANNA ANNA ANNA............ always ANNA!!
Jul 30th, 2002, 02:02 PM
Sounds like he knows what he's talking about to me, except for the part of knowing how much she trains. Only she and her coach knows that.
I also agree that if it weren't for tennis we would not be seeing anna k at all. she is not supermodel beautiful, she does not have acting talent, so really what you have is:
pretty girl + major sport = anna kornikova
yes she deserves all her contracts and endorsements but no one will really take her seriously again until she shows some results.
I mean come on! With all her talent and she hasnt won a title? Even you die hard anna fans must have some confusion or questions about that, dont you? Unless all you care about is seeing her on the next magazine cover or tv commercial, then I guess it doesnt matter at all.
~ The Leopard ~
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:30 PM
Of course Anna's fans have concerns about her lack of titles etc.
But this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. He doesn't acknowledge that Anna's ranking dropped (just after the Oz Open) to the high 90s as a result of her injury and that she's been able to climb 50-odd places since then, despite all her problems this year. The injury was squarely the reason her ranking plummeted from the top 10 to almost out of the top 100. She's now probably on her way back to a ranking in the top 20 to 30 by early next year, though it won't be easy for her.
You'd never know any of this from the article, and the writer either doesn't know or is hiding it from us.
FWIW we'll see where Anna gets to in ranking once she's ranked high enough to be seeded in the slams again. Whether she's good enough to reach top 10 again is an open question in my mind.
The writer's remarks about training are totally wrong... and the gist of the article is that Anna's problems are from lack of commitment. There is no basis to that at all. She's one of the most committed players on the tour in the sense of a heavy training and playing schedule... maybe too much so if anything.
The quote from Robinson is cheap. Here we have a former athlete wanting to sojnd like a big-shot academic cultural critic blathering about "the objectified body"... evidently based on total ignorance of Anna's work schedule, because there is certainly no connection between the facts and the remarks attributed to her.
Take out the nasty opinions (but he's entitled to them, ho hum) about Anna's physical beauty, or lack of it, and there is nothing there in the article that is true and substantial.
Please, give the fans of Anna who are here a break. We discuss her problems at all-too-obsessive length among ourselves (usually on another board). We're not idiots. But this writer's diagnosis is ignorant and destructive, and I for one will contest it vigorously. I am just fed up with seeing articles like this by journos who see the opportunity for a quick, cliched hatchet job on Anna every time she plays in a different city.
As some people here know, I am, among other things, a freelance writer myself. I am not a sports writer and don't claim the degree of technical expertise that a lot of other people here have which would give me credibility if I wrote professionally about sport.
But I could produce something with a lot more credibility and integrity than this garbage. It's the kind of thing that brings journalists into disrepute, at least in my eyes.
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:39 PM
Anna's trouble began a few years back when the media made her looks bigger than her game. I really don't blame her, she was young; all of that attention would be hard to resist for most of us regardless of age. A coach, her parents, someone should have stepped in to help her focus on her game. Don't get me wrong; she would be a fool not to take the loot; if those advertising folks want to give her millions --- take it. But, she could have had the money and the game. Now, a few years later, I think she is starting to realize this; now she wants the slams more than the fame and bucks. She had the talent but it does not seem was putting in the work to develop it. Is it too late for Anna? I hope not. I hope she proves her naysayers wrong unlss she is playing against V & S, of course.
Jul 30th, 2002, 03:54 PM
Originally posted by sherry
She had the talent but it does not seem was putting in the work to develop it.
she was putting in the work. but the work wasnt concentrated in the right place to harness that talent she does have. it was just a lack of direction before. she was working hard, but more or less treading water with her improvement.
now i think all this has changed with the hiring of solomon. i think he knows what he has to do and what he has to get anna to do in order to improve her game. anna's mother was never going to be able to do this.
the biggest mistake anna made IMO was not having a coach from the moment she made her comeback from injury.
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:05 PM
One of the worst and most needless articles I've ever read about anybody! :mad:
And one thing you can't queation about Anna is her work ethic. Anna Kournikova is known to have been a very hard worker since day one of her career. The other players know this and say Anna is one of the hardest workers out there. So it's just another media creation that Anna is lazy and doesn't work hard in practice. It's all so laughable! :p But sad, too. :(
Serena y Monica
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:38 PM
I've been saying this for years, she's cute and a discredit to the concept of female athlete...just an opinion but glad to see mine is shared by at least one other or yeah make that four others.
Jul 30th, 2002, 04:55 PM
Great article, thanks for posting it. I have always seen Anna as an attractive, sexy girl... but NOT beautiful or in the league of any of the great beauties (Liz Taylor, Garbo, Halle Berry etc etc). Sure she has a sexy body, great hair and legs to die for, but she has a somewhat pudgy, cheeky face and her eyes are close-set.
Chris Evert and John McEnroe are right. If Anna wants to 'save face' in terms of tennis, she needs some results. She has talent and she can move wonderfully on the court. Her doubles results prove she can volley. She needs to do SOMETHING!
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:02 PM
:rolleyes:@ TIM SULLIVAN
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:06 PM
I think is Anna is beautiful, how can one man speak for the rest of us...?
Jul 30th, 2002, 06:25 PM
I think it's really too late for Anna to save face in terms of tennis. People can get upset all they want about articles such as these, but it only reflects what most people (including myself) feel about Anna--that being that she's a joke. Even if she wins a title, will that change anything? Probably not. I mean it still will have taken her over 100 tries to do so, and people reading the headline would probably laugh at her for that alone. Perhaps the only way she could be taken seriously as a tennis players would be for her to win a Grand Slam. That's something most reasonable people realize is virtually impossible.
I've always felt that Anna's cute, but also that she ISN'T close to being beautiful (ie, Cindy Crawford, Halle, etc). I considered the possibility of her being a good tennis player given all the hype I read about her when she came onto the scene. Now, I don't see her as being talented. The one thing I will give her credit for is being a smart business woman (or at least for having smart business people around her), because there are a whole lot of women more beautiful than Anna, and also a whole lot of tennis players more talented than Anna--none of whom will make nearly the amount Anna's earns in interest alone.
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:06 AM
Everyone says that Anna works very hard. It's NOT about how MUCH you work. Most people work all their lives and get nowhere. It IS about HOW you work.
I do the 200m for my athletics club, and I work damn hard to improve my time. But I could do swimming training instead. I'd still be working hard, but I be working on the wrong thing, because I'm a 200m runner.
It's not about how MUCH you work. It's about HOW you work.
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:30 AM
I cannot believe I am defending Anna Kournikova (what's the world coming to?) but I have to disagree. If she gets the results, consistent tour wins that I am sure she is somewhat capable of, we will all give her a little credit and lose the 'joke' moniker. Time heals all wounds and does remarkable things for one's memory and perceptions, esp journalists. I seriously doubt she will ever be a consistent title winner, like Henin, but there is a slight possibility. And if she ever wins a slam...oy vey! Now I gotta say FAT CHANCE to that, but who the hell knows?
Big Fat Pink Elephant
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:31 AM
let's not forget that Anna waa in the top ten. and that was NOT bcoz of her looks. she really has talent, too bad that she hasn't had the oppurtunity to show it, by winning some titles.
fuck the media......
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:55 AM
I agree with the article in that, if Anna wasn't a tennis player, no one would have given her a second look. IMO, the media hyped her at the beginning as a beautiful lady and we know how everybody else sheepishly follows the media. I never found her to be sexy, nor is she attractive. As a tennis player too, I agree with article again, she sucks.
Jul 31st, 2002, 01:14 AM
If Anna isn't pretty and she isn't talented why are the crowds packed when she's playing?
I'm sure a lot of people think she's very beautiful, some don't, and the people who know something about tennis know she is talented.
Jul 31st, 2002, 03:16 AM
this again? what is this writer saying that's actually an original thought? :confused:
~ The Leopard ~
Jul 31st, 2002, 04:34 AM
I can't wait for the bastard's report on the Kournikova v. Stevenson match.
Oh.... something else to cover that day?
Hahahahahaha, GO ANNA!! :bounce:
Jul 31st, 2002, 04:35 AM
I see where you're coming from, but, Anna has won almost twice as many matches as she's lost in her career. That's not too bad. I'd say she's an average player (at the professional level)--certainly not talented, as anyone can see.
The problem for Anna is that everyone hyped her up so much in the beginning that we've been waiting for what seems an eternity for her to deliver. We call her a joke partly because she's underachieved per our initial expectations (notice how we never call players with worse records than Anna a joke). Given this, I highly doubt that the label could be erased with an occasional title here and there--although it will eliminate a HUGE source of ridicule for her.
I believe we've seen close to the best that Anna has to offer. Bottom line, she'll be remembered as looks rather than substance in tennis terms.
Jul 31st, 2002, 12:52 PM
Originally posted by Bright Red
a whole lot of tennis players more talented than Anna.
It will be interesting to know who these "whole lot" of other players who are more talented than Anna is???
While you look thru your huge list to come up with these players :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
I will post something in which Harold Solomon said about Anna..
I doubt you will agree, but oh well...
"She has some of the best hands of anybody, and she's quick," Solomon said. "She can play shots only a couple of other girls can play. She has as much talent as anybody."
BTW why is it that we only have negative articles posted about Anna??? There has been many positive article written in recent weeks about Anna, but for some unknown reason they never find there way onto this board...
Here is another article, this one from the LA times.. I am sure the people who agreed with the above article will also fully agree with this one aswell...
Nothing Ugly About Her Win
Commentary: Kournikova, dressed for success, has no trouble eliminating Stevenson in the first round, 6-0, 6-1.
By BILL DWYRE
Times Staff Writer
July 31 2002
CARLSBAD -- A sellout crowd of 6,500, approximately 87.2% of it male, watched Anna Kournikova dismantle Alexandra Stevenson in a first-round match of the Acura Classic tennis tournament Tuesday night, 6-0, 6-1, in 47 minutes.
"It probably took her longer to get dressed," wisecracked one sportswriter, a female no less.
And so it goes in the world of Anna, the Russian rave who appears on magazine covers more often than President Bush and whose endorsement earnings make her tennis winnings look like chump change.
Just because she hasn't won a tournament in her first 112 tries and hasn't advanced as far as the semifinals of a Grand Slam event since 1997, the cynical press continues to stalk her with negativity.
Even with the kind of result she had against Stevenson, ranked 24 notches above her at No. 30, the skeptics with the keyboards give her no slack, going for the cheap lines that deal with looks and sex appeal, rather than serves and volleys. It is the shallow, uninformed types, some of whom write Page 2 columns for major metro sports sections and who wouldn't know a foot fault from a foot fetish, who relish the opportunity to make light of Kournikova's tennis skills while tossing out sexist one-liners.
Those are the types who would, when writing about Kournikova's win here, focus on such things as her cute teal-and-white outfit, with matching teal visor. Or the long blond braided ponytail that bounced gracefully through the air as she glided gracefully from side to side along the baseline. Or the bare midriff and tiny teal skirt that came into play once the warmup outfit came off and the match began.
It is those kinds of details that always seemed to be stressed, along with the signs held up in the stands by groups of panting males that say: "Marry Me, Anna." Nor will these types of writers fail to report the plaintiff cries that emanate from groups of males in the upper deck as Kournikova waves to leave the court after matches, cries of "We love you, Anna."
Those who would prolong the negativity would babble on about long legs and blue eyes and things that have absolutely no bearing on how well a first serve kicks or a topspin forehand bites. No, with these people, there is no sense for the societal significance of Kournikova's tennis, no sense for the international appeal of her cross-court backhand.
She spoke afterward of a recent injury to her stomach muscle, and that brought sexist comments in the press room about the impossibility of anything attached to her being the least bit in need of repair.
So, what is needed is some straight reporting. Such as:
Kournikova got her first serve in an incredible 91% of the time. Stevenson, a big server playing in front of a hometown crowd, never held serve, mostly because Kournikova returned so well.
Kournikova had 16 winners and forced Stevenson into 21 errors.
Kournikova won 53 points, Stevenson 30.
The only game Kournikova lost was in the second set, 37 minutes into the match, on her own serve at 3-0. "It was my fault. I made four errors," she said.
Kournikova had nine break-point chances and converted seven. She approached the net 13 times and won the point on nine of those.
Afterward, Kournikova said she played "almost perfect." Stevenson said her "pride was hurt."
I agree with most of this interesting article because it shows that maybe the media hype for Anna is wearing down since she still has no WTA singles titles.
Anna is definitely an athlete, a good tennis player because reaching the top ten is no easy feat, but whether she, her parents, agents or all were able to initiate the ball rolling for her to become a media icon is unknown.
The media is now making itself as much a clown in the circus that revolves around Kournikova because all of their high end hype for the Russian cutie is proving pointless.
If she were an actress, anna would probably be about the level of Anna Nicole Smith.
No blockbusters. No Oscars. No great performances.
True, this media rush is now even beyond her own control and it now looks like all anyone can do is to endure this mild torture until Anna leaves the game.
But, if you think the hype is bad now, imagaine what it would be like if/when the rocket finally wins a tournament. Oh Lord, don't let that first win be a slam or it will bring about armegedon.
90 percent of Kournikova articles seem to be complaining about all the publicity she gets. How ironic.
Equally ironic to see how this particular writer denounces how Anna Kournikova is objectified - while doing the exact same thing himself by carefully rating every aspect of her appearence, with special attention paid to her alledgedly sub-par face.
Bright Red finds Anna to be 'average' by pro standards, and 'not talented'.
I wonder what kind of words he uses to describe players outside the Top 100. Players that will never win Grand Slam titles in doubles, or defeat a string of former world No. 1's.
Anna Kournikova does not need to save face. She never lost it to begin with.
She is one of the most successful individuals in the world.
Jul 31st, 2002, 02:41 PM
If you think that Anna is one of the most talented players out there, that's fine by me. I just don't believe that she is. Therefore, I won't provide a list since you've already made up your mind about her, as have I.
Jul 31st, 2002, 02:53 PM
Yes, I find Anna to be an average player. I don't use the word talented as loosely as some of you. I reserve it for those players I think are excellent. Admittedly, every player on the tour has some measure of talent -- even the player at the bottom of the ranking list.
FYI, I really don't consider a player outside of the Top 100 good (unless they're are special circumstances that can explain her rank, ie. she's up and coming, or she's played only a few matches, etc).
Jul 31st, 2002, 02:55 PM
Based on talent alone I would put Anna in the top 5.
Her problems even when she was playing well (eg.2000) was shot selection (she could be terrible at times and make you go:eek: ) and of course the mental side. She didn't have a coach at this time either.
I think all of that is coming together now, and I think Anna if she continues like this could aim at a seed at the US Open, she needs 250 points to get it, I think she can but it all depends on the draws at Los Angeles (if she plays) and Montreal.
Jul 31st, 2002, 03:13 PM
anna always tries to much and in her impatience she starts to hit weird shots(serena has the same problems but it doesn't hurt her most of the time)