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Zébulon
Aug 8th, 2008, 06:04 PM
Growing the Kournikova Appreciation Society
View point : Sarah Thurmond. (http://www.tennis.com/features/general/features.aspx?id=141516)

I was never a fan of Anna Kournikova. She was exactly what I thought a female athlete should NOT be: too pretty, too sexy, and too skinny. And because of this, I fell victim to the belief that Kournikova was just a mediocre player who never won a singles title.

Recently, I’ve had a change of heart. While Kournikova looks the same as she did almost a decade ago, evidence suggests she has changed. Grown up in fact. And her turnaround has made me turn around to look at her in a new light.

It started with two articles about Kournikova: Cindy Shmerler’s piece in the May issue of TENNIS and L. Jon Wertheim’s piece in the “Where Are They Now?” issue of Sports Illustrated (the one with tennis on the cover). Both writers describe a friendly, well-adjusted, and accessible Kournikova, much different from the guarded and blasé teenager who brought va-va-va-voom to the women’s game in the late 1990s. When she speaks, Kournikova comes across much more sensible and funnier than I remember (maybe because I never really cared what she had to say). She seems about as normal as you can get after basically starting a tennis career at 10, the age she was when she and her mother moved from Russia to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida.
Kournikova’s record, while not spectacular, was nothing to be ashamed of. She was the No. 1 junior player in the world by age 14, and only 16 years old when she reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1997, losing to Martina Hingis. In 2000, when she hit her career-high singles ranking of No. 8, she was in the Top 10 with Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, the Williams sisters, and Monica Seles. Not shabby company. (She even beat some of them.) And we all know she excelled at doubles, becoming the No. 1 player at one point and with Hingis capturing two Australian Open doubles titles.

While watching YouTube video clips of Kournikova in her “prime,” it’s understandable why her athletic ability was overlooked, kind of in the same way an actress’ great acting chops can be overshadowed if she’s too beautiful. In truth, Kournikova was a fearless fighter on court, with quick feet and solid ground strokes. Unlike some of the mindless baseline bashing that goes on today, she actually set up points, using angles and different spins, and was eager to get to the net where she could quickly end points with a well-placed volley or drop shot. Because she liked to be creative, she played risky shots that didn’t always win her matches. But it’s nice to see a female player use variety as a tactic to compete against her stronger peers.

When the wheels fell off Kournikova’s game, critics blamed her unfulfilled potential on her off-court distractions. Too many lad magazine pictorials, sponsorship commitments, endorsement deals, hockey players, etc. But, in the end it was an unfortunate string of injuries (stress fracture in her foot, sprained ankle, sprained back) that prevented her from being able to seriously compete at the end of her pro career.

This brings me to another reason why I’ve come to appreciate Kournikova. People continue to take cheap shots at her, like she's some sort of convenient punching bag for underachievers, when it doesn’t seem deserved.

“If she’s not crying by the time she comes off court then I did not do my job...I just despise her to the maximum level just below hate,” said former pro Justin Gimelstob during his rant about his World TeamTennis colleague on a Washington radio show in June. He also called her a “bitch” and “douche,” taking the art of sports trash talking to a whole new level of idiocy. What did Kournikova do? She kept her mouth shut while others punished his behavior. I kind of wished when their WTT teams played each other, she had yelled out, “Guess what, Gimelstob, you can't afford me!”

Then American player Ashley Harkleroad took a swipe at her. “Anna [Kournikova] is stunning to look at, but she’s probably a bit damaged from what she’s been through. That’s how she acts, a bit damaged,” said Harkleroad in the August issue of Playboy. If by “damaged” Harkleroad means raising money for Boys and Girls Clubs, having a steady boyfriend for six years, maintaining her business relationship with K-Swiss, or not taking her clothes off for Playboy at her coach/fiancé’s urging, then yes Ashley, Kournikova must be pretty damaged.

You’ve got to show respect to someone who remains a popular public figure almost five years since playing her last sanctioned match, someone who’s done this by not taking the road often used by today’s Hollywood starlets. Kournikova does not get arrested or cause car accidents while under the influence or publicly feud with her best friend or validate her existence by having her face plastered on most the despicable gossip show ever created, TMZ.

While browsing YouTube, I came across a clip of the 1997 Wimbledon semifinal match. At the end of it, moments after losing, Kournikova starts chatting with Hingis. She does not sit in her chair sulking or hide her face in a towel crying. Instead, she makes conversation while patiently waiting for the girl who just beat her to gather up her gear before walking off the court with her. Who does that today?"

This is the side of Kournikova I overlooked when she was making waves in tennis. This is the Kournikova that seems to still exist today, only now a little older and wiser. I can appreciate that.

Sarah Thurmond is an associate editor at TENNIS magazine.

Sums up pretty well what I think of Anna. :)

sammy01
Aug 8th, 2008, 06:19 PM
it is a shame and at least sarah thurmond is big enough to admit preconcieved ideas of kournikova. for every person who loved/liked her there was 3 ready to take a swipe at her, when in all honesty she did nothing different than an sexy actress does. they do their jobs and use their beauty to enhance it and make money.

its so strange to me that at the time of kournikova people moaned and gave her such a hard time, now the WTA tour is crying out for a new kournikova, even trying to mould the less pretty/sexy (imo) sharapova and ivanovic and force them down peoples throats.
if only the wta and others knew how big kournikova was to tennis and what pressure that put on her, they might have given her a easier time of it.

SIN DIOS NI LEY
Aug 8th, 2008, 06:36 PM
Enough with Kournikova , she is almost a retired player

Every week a new thread talking about her :zzz: , not even (truly) great players in the tennis history have a new thread every fucking week talking about how great they were

There is nothing to talk about Kournikova , she did not win nothing as tennis player

Richie77
Aug 8th, 2008, 06:54 PM
Here's another nice article, this one on ESPN's website:
http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=3323399 (http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=3323399)
I got new respect for Anna after reading this article, and am glad to see that other articles have confirmed this. She's grown up quite nicely, has devoted her life to helping others, and has decided to do positive things with her fame. In other words, she's not the least bit "damaged."

Zébulon
Aug 8th, 2008, 08:20 PM
Enough with Kournikova , she is almost a retired player

Every week a new thread talking about her :zzz: , not even (truly) great players in the tennis history have a new thread every fucking week talking about how great they were

There is nothing to talk about Kournikova , she did not win nothing as tennis player

This kind of posts is exactly the reason I posted this article : I'm fed up with reading this kind of easy contempt which forgets she did achieve much more than she is credited for. The only thing missing in that article is how important she was for Russian tennis girls, as she showed the way and all. Some of these girls gave her credit for that, and I can even remember reading Marat about this, but people now just use her lack of single titles to slash her at any opportunity. I used to disregard her cause I was fed up of all the endorsments, but now players do much more and everybody find it normal. I also smell a lot of common machism whenever her names comes up and it bothers me. I'm not a fan, but I dislike this. I think this article sums up pretty well the unfairness of many people's opinion about her, and the lack of respect.

Kai
Aug 8th, 2008, 08:42 PM
thanks for posting :hug:

Lucy
Aug 8th, 2008, 10:34 PM
another kournikova article talking about the same things....:yawn:

Temporary0369
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:03 PM
:) This is a nice article, I'm glad more people are giving her credit, albeit a bit too late. Kournikova was a good player with great style and handled herself well in the media (I just love that interview where she makes that disrespectful reporter look like an ass). Did she live up to her potential? No, but getting into a tight top 10, reaching finals at most notably Miami and Moscow, a Wimbledon semi, a few 4th rounds, and a quarterfinal isn't bad. Especially considering how much she was injured and how few full seasons she was able to play. If only she could have gotten that one title monkey off her back I think she would have been able to play with a lot more confidence. She had a lot early on on the tour but I think the negativity towards her and inability to win a title took its toll. She had wins over Graf, Seles, Davenport, Sanchez Vicario, Hingis, Conchita, the girl knew what she was doing.

I have the feeling that a lot of people who hate/dislike/talk trash about Kournikova haven't seen her play and don't know about the things she has done and also had to overcome on the tour.

frenchie
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:14 PM
Enough with Kournikova , she is almost a retired player

Every week a new thread talking about her :zzz: , not even (truly) great players in the tennis history have a new thread every fucking week talking about how great they were

There is nothing to talk about Kournikova , she did not win nothing as tennis player

That's exactly the kind of post of somebody who doesn't know anything about tennis and who only listens to rumors and prejudices!:o

I'm sure you've never seen her play at her prime:help:

M&M
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:33 PM
i miss her :sad: i luvd her game...

tenn_ace
Aug 8th, 2008, 11:59 PM
Enough with Kournikova , she is almost a retired player

Every week a new thread talking about her :zzz: , not even (truly) great players in the tennis history have a new thread every fucking week talking about how great they were

There is nothing to talk about Kournikova , she did not win nothing as tennis player


And what I think is you should go suck Gimelstob's wiwi and get over your hate to Anna. I'd rather read articles about a "nobody" Anna every week than a post/month from a useless somebody like you.

karimcartoon
Aug 9th, 2008, 01:23 AM
Great article. I'll always miss Anna. Her game is so beautiful to watch.
"A copy is never as a good as the original" - Anna Kournikova

SIN DIOS NI LEY
Aug 9th, 2008, 01:58 AM
That's exactly the kind of post of somebody who doesn't know anything about tennis and who only listens to rumors and prejudices!:o

I'm sure you've never seen her play at her prime:help:

Unfortunately I watched her playing many times on TV . I can not think about other player having more TV coverage than Kournikova and not deserving that coverage at the same time, according to her achievements (ninguno , nada , cero) and usual ranking

AnomyBC
Aug 9th, 2008, 06:47 AM
Enough with Kournikova , she is almost a retired player

Every week a new thread talking about her :zzz: , not even (truly) great players in the tennis history have a new thread every fucking week talking about how great they were

There is nothing to talk about Kournikova , she did not win nothing as tennis player

She made it to #8 in the world in singles and #1 in the world in doubles. She won many doubles titles, including some Grand Slam titles. She inspired millions of other attractive young Russian women to start playing tennis. She inspired millions of teenage boys (myself included!) to start watching tennis. And she's one of the hottest women to ever walk the Earth. What more do you want? :drool::hearts: