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Trogdor
Aug 26th, 2003, 07:44 PM
With the US Open starting this week, there's a nice, well-written article in this week's issue of The Village Voice, NYC's leading alternative newspaper.

http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0335/john.php

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Remembering a Different Kournikova
Anna Had Game
by Allen St. John
August 27 - September 2, 2003

I can't concentrate—the umpire is too hot, says Andy Roddick. The tour's, uh, hottest player isn't just trying to schmooze his way to a close overrule. Perched in the official's chair over Arthur Ashe Stadium is that hottest of hotties, Anna Kournikova, she of the 14 billion Web hits, the Maxim cover, the is-she-or-isn't-she marriage to Sergei Fedorov. It's a Kids' Day exhibition between Roddick and top seed Andre Agassi, and they're not going to let the honorary ump off easy.

"Why do I not have your cell phone number," Roddick implores. "I'm not sure Mandy would like that," Kournikova retorts, referring to Mandy Moore, Roddick's teen idol squeeze.

"I can dance," Roddick continues, launching into a bizarre cross between Latin dance and epileptic seizure meant to parody the gyrations of Kournikova's latest love, Enrique Iglesias.

"I'm living La Vida Loca," he howls. "Oh wait, that's the other guy." "I can skate," gibes Agassi, doing his best Fedorov impression—or is that Pavel Bure? "Winner of the point gets her cell phone number," proposes the Hairless Wonder, before serving it up.

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This year's U.S. Open is all about who isn't here. Serena Williams, who has won five of the past six Grand Slams, is sitting out with a knee injury. Sister Venus, who owns four slams of her own, is also MASH'd, with a pulled stomach muscle. Defending champion Pete Sampras, who has won more hardware than any man, finally made his retirement official. And even Marat Safin, the hypertalented Russian who schooled Sampras in the 2000 final, is out with a wrist injury.

But there's been shockingly little notice of the fact that this benefit appearance marks the beginning and the end of Kournikova's Open. Injuries to her finely sculpted, seriously overexposed back will not only keep her out of this year's tournament, but may also force her into retirement at the ripe old age of 21. If that's the case, let's remember her last U.S. Open match. It was the first round last year at Louis Armstrong Stadium, and the 37th-ranked Kournikova drew Angelique Widjaja, the teenage pride of Indonesia. Yes, Anna looked great, the Adidas crop top and short shorts every bit as racy as anything from Gaultier. (Does anyone remember Martina Navratilova's shorts being criticized as less than feminine?) But Anna played awful. At one point, she bounced a serve into the net, an error that would elicit snickers in Central Park. Later she hit a backhand swing volley that sailed into the backstop—easily 20 feet beyond the baseline.

She sprayed forehands, she sprayed backhands, she netted sitter volleys. It was a perfect Hobbesian tennis match: ugly, brutish, and short.

The crowd didn't know what to think. Booing was too obvious, and there was nothing to cheer. None of the assembled investment bankers even stopped to propose marriage. Kournikova's body language suggested a certain haughty indifference, like that of a supermodel at a fast-food joint, but beneath the visor that propped up her ponytail, her eyes betrayed real hurt, the kind of wounded pride you see in a hitter who can't get around on a fastball anymore.

This wasn't the first time I saw that look. It was the 1994 U.S. Open and an intriguing juniors match was shaping up on an outside court. Martina Hingis, then 14 and the top junior in the world, was taking on Kournikova. Only a few weeks past her 13th birthday, young Anna was a protégée of Nick Bolletieri, and considered a comer, not for her looks but for her game. I showed up at the outside court where the match was scheduled, figuring I'd arrive somewhere late in the first set. But instead I saw the players leaving. Hingis had shellacked her younger opponent—love and love, or maybe love and one—in something like 32 minutes, one of those matches that are over before they start. Making her way off the court, Hingis smirked her soon-to-be-classic daughter-of-Chucky smirk. Message sent: "Go play with someone your own age, kid." Anna was still very much a little girl, dwarfed by her giant racket bag and too gawky and gangly to star in a Disney movie. Her long, blond hair and porcelain complexion were the only outward signs of a nascent sex appeal. In a word, waifish. As she waited for her handlers to escort her from the scene of the crime, her big, blue eyes were propped open as if in shock and brimming with tears. If Sally Struthers had asked, you would have opened your heart and your wallet for this little girl.

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It's easy to forget, but there was a time between her first Open and her last when Kournikova had game. She covered the court like a cheetah, whacked backhands with grim precision, stroked forehands with old-school style, and ventured to the net more boldly than any top player of her generation And despite the pressures that come with magazine covers, she was one of the hardest workers on the tour. Sure, her serve was a cream puff, prone to breakdowns at inopportune times. She lacked the sheer imagination—the spin, the angles, the changes of pace—that buoyed Hingis's game. And she lacked the physique that allowed the Williams sisters, Lindsay Davenport, and Jennifer Capriati to play take-no-prisoners power tennis. The irony, of course, is that the very body that made her famous beyond words let her down on the tennis court. And now Kournikova's body has let her down in another way altogether. No, she never won a singles tournament. But she was ranked as high as eighth in the world. She made the semifinals of Wimbledon on her first trip. She won two Grand Slam doubles titles and was ranked number one in the team discipline. In short, she had a career that hundreds of players, from Meghann Shaughnessy on up, would kill for.

The game of women's tennis has always been filled with sad stories, from Suzanne Lenglen's to Mo Connolly's to Monica Seles's. And while no one's going to mistake Anna Kourni-kova for Anna Karenina, this is still a story with no happy ending in sight. The game's marketers will anoint a New Anna—maybe Maria Sharapova, maybe Daniela Hantuchova, maybe Ashley Harkleroad, or even Marat Safin's little sister, Dinara Safina—and the on-court flesh peddling will continue uninterrupted. But what's next for Original Anna? Maybe she can get a game-show gig, reviving the old John McEnroe vehicle The Chair ("Our male contestant tries to keep his blood pressure within the target range while tennis's sexiest star cavorts around the stage in a sports bra . . . "). Maybe she'll be a guest judge on American Idol. Or maybe there'll be reality TV—an ESPN2 spin à la Anna Nicole Smith. Or perhaps she'll just marry Prince William. But whatever the future holds for Kournikova, remember that beneath that signature model sports bra beats the heart of an athlete asking, "What if?"
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If nothing else, the anecdotes from the Roddick-Agassi exhibition match make for an entertaining read. But, overall, I'd say this is a very nice article that retains a certain professional objectivity often lacking in assessments of Kournikova's career.

WhatTheDeuce
Aug 26th, 2003, 07:53 PM
:rolleyes:

shes not retiring...ppl saying that over and over is starting to get VERY annoying...and this was one of the dumbest articles ever :rolleyes:

apoet29
Aug 26th, 2003, 07:56 PM
:rolleyes:

shes not retiring...ppl saying that over and over is starting to get VERY annoying...and this was one of the dumbest articles ever :rolleyes:

How is the article dumb? Honestly, I thought it was a very balanced piece of journalism that is trying to give Kournikova the praise she deserves for her game and trying to show that she is genuinely hurt and not always about the money.

As for retiring, Anna's own agent stated that she was. If it is not the case, then she needs to talk to her agent and state otherwise.

WhatTheDeuce
Aug 26th, 2003, 08:00 PM
How is the article dumb? Honestly, I thought it was a very balanced piece of journalism that is trying to give Kournikova the praise she deserves for her game and trying to show that she is genuinely hurt and not always about the money.

As for retiring, Anna's own agent stated that she was. If it is not the case, then she needs to talk to her agent and state otherwise.

he said she would probably need to cut down her schedule...and anna has stated that she wouldnt retire...and it was dumb because they make anna seem to be the worst player ever nowadays when in 2002 she was up to like 33 in the world and was improving until she got injured again. anna will be back...and its incredibly dumb for this moron to say she should take up another job just because shes going through a rough time...he should just ignore the fact that she still has talent and still loves the game of tennis, right? :rolleyes: and all the crap like ppl are trying to find a new anna? jesus christ its SO STUPID...and its a known fact that anna still does work hard, its not like she doesnt care anymore which is what this moron makes it sound like..

Trogdor
Aug 26th, 2003, 08:34 PM
But there's been shockingly little notice of the fact that this benefit appearance marks the beginning and the end of Kournikova's Open. Injuries to her finely sculpted, seriously overexposed back will not only keep her out of this year's tournament, but may also force her into retirement at the ripe old age of 21. If that's the case, let's remember her last U.S. Open match...

Wow, my third post on these boards-- which I had delayed for over a year after I first started reading them because of how negative and hostile they seemed-- and I already have to defend something. Whee.

But here goes... MonicAnna, you claim that the article is "stupid"-- one of the "stupidest ever", even-- because it makes up more garbage about Kournikova's supposed retirement. So, I draw your attention to the sentence in bold-face above.

The author of the article never says for a fact that Kournikova is retiring, just that her current injury has led to fairly widespread speculation, and even a comment from her agent, that she may have to retire. Not that she is retiring. But that she might. Conditional. Not definitive.

What follows in the rest of the article is a very well-informed and, particularly in comparison to a great deal of the press Kournikova receives, reasonably positive assessment of what retirement would mean for Kournikova's career.

The main reason that I posted this article in the first place is that, in terms of legitimate sports journalism, it brings into sharp relief many of the problems-- biases, misinformation, poor grammar, etc-- rampant in many of the other so-called professional articles I've read around here. Stupid me for thinking something like that might actually be immune to similarly biased, misinformed criticism. :rolleyes:

apoet29
Aug 26th, 2003, 08:36 PM
You and I must have read the article completely differently. He is not suggesting that she take another job, but is suggesting that because of her fame she has many opportunities open to her. He ends the article by saying that Anna still wants to play and prove herself.

He never said that she was the worst player in 2002. What he talked about was her 2002 US Open appearance and how badly she played. Even the most ardent Anna fan has to admit that match was not one of her finest moments. As for the other aspects of her game, he complimented her hard work and all court game, but his statement that she lacks the physical prowess of the power players or the finesse of Hingis is a true statement.

At no time does this author imply that she doesn't care. In fact, from the examples that he cited, she cares too much.

I think the problem that Anna and Williams fans face is that some many negative articles are written about their fave that they start reading every article in a negative way. I didn't read this article as negative at all because it attempts to give Anna credit as an athlete.

ALPHA
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:01 PM
Thanks for the article, Trogdor.

Interesting, fair and good style.

Lelu
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:27 PM
One of the better articles about Anna I've read in a while. Thanks for posting.

Unfortunately, Anna has too many fans not only with clouded objectivity but with poor reading comprehension skills as demonstrated yet again in this thread.

WhatTheDeuce
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:38 PM
One of the better articles about Anna I've read in a while. Thanks for posting.

Unfortunately, Anna has too many fans not only with clouded objectivity but with poor reading comprehension skills as demonstrated yet again in this thread.
yeah i guess i did read it wrong...no need to insult me though LOL...anyway, maybe ive read so many negative articles that every article i read about her seems negative...

Trogdor
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:44 PM
yeah i guess i did read it wrong...no need to insult me though LOL...anyway, maybe ive read so many negative articles that every article i read about her seems negative...

Right-oh. No hard feelings from my end of things.

WhatTheDeuce
Aug 26th, 2003, 09:47 PM
Right-oh. No hard feelings from my end of things.
;)

jojoseph
Aug 26th, 2003, 11:11 PM
This wasn't the first time I saw that look. It was the 1994 U.S. Open and an intriguing juniors match was shaping up on an outside court. Martina Hingis, then 14 and the top junior in the world, was taking on Kournikova. Only a few weeks past her 13th birthday, young Anna was a protégée of Nick Bolletieri, and considered a comer, not for her looks but for her game. I showed up at the outside court where the match was scheduled, figuring I'd arrive somewhere late in the first set. But instead I saw the players leaving. Hingis had shellacked her younger opponent—love and love, or maybe love and one—in something like 32 minutes, one of those matches that are over before they start. Making her way off the court, Hingis smirked her soon-to-be-classic daughter-of-Chucky smirk. Message sent: "Go play with someone your own age, kid." Anna was still very much a little girl, dwarfed by her giant racket bag and too gawky and gangly to star in a Disney movie. Her long, blond hair and porcelain complexion were the only outward signs of a nascent sex appeal. In a word, waifish. As she waited for her handlers to escort her from the scene of the crime, her big, blue eyes were propped open as if in shock and brimming with tears. If Sally Struthers had asked, you would have opened your heart and your wallet for this little girl.


Interesting. Perhaps I've been looking at this all wrong. This isn't just a Post-98 finger injury curse, this has been a life-long curse. Sucks, though. All the money and fame in the world ain't gonna buy you a Grand Slam title.

ajayares
Aug 27th, 2003, 03:50 AM
As for retiring, Anna's own agent stated that she was. If it is not the case, then she needs to talk to her agent and state otherwise.

No he didn't, he hasn't even mentioned the word at all. That French report was just a reharsh job of the interview he gave ******************** two weeks prior. Since then every journalist has jumped on it as been "NEW" news when it isn't.

Here is the proof:

From the french article (ESPN)
"Considering the state of her back, Anna is unable to [play] in tournaments regularly," De Picciotto told L'Equipe. "The past six months have proved that she has a real desire to play, but even if she feels better, she is not fit enough to play as much as she used to."

From tennisreporters 2 weeks before

"If nothing else, the last six months have shown that she has a real willingness to play, because she keeps trying to get back on court even when its been physically and emotionally trying," Depicciotto said. "But even if she feels better, she's not in good enough shape to play regular tour events yet."

They have just changed a word here and there (which was probably lost in the translation)

Her agent, Octagon's Phil Depicciotto wouldn't call the injury career threatening, but said that no end is in sight.

"Anna is unable to play a consistent tour schedule with her back the way it is now and unless there is marked improvement, her schedule will remain uncertain," Depicciotto told tr.net.


That's is all he has ever said and everyone has jumped to conclusions.

As for this article, very interesting, but once again they may have used the words, may and might only, but the context of the how the article has been written, is that it is a done deal that she has already retired, that's not the case and will not be the case either IMO.

Trogdor
Aug 27th, 2003, 04:40 AM
ajayares...

Thanks for posting the actual quotes from Kournikova's reps. I was definitely under the impression that her agent was the source of much of the retirement talk, but I guess that's what I get for trusting what I read online! The progression of that rumour from the initial doctor's statement reads like some version of the children's game "telephone"... Not that I'm particularly surprised by that.

As for the "done deal," I felt like the emphasis of the article was that, if Kournikova were to retire, she hasn't been given due credit for a career that, while obviously not rivaling that of other recent retirees (Hingis, Sanchez-Vicario, Graf), still commands respect in comparison to the majority of the pros who've come and gone on the WTA. What Kournikova has accomplished, even without a title win, certainly holds up to the likes of, say, the Rachel McQuillans or the Lilia Osterlohs of the tour.

(ASIDE: Those were the first two names that happened to pop into my head. Both McQuillan and Osterloh are fine athletes and appear genuinely pleasant and bright when interviewed. And I fully recognize that the amount of press they, and other similarly-ranked pros, have generated over the course of their careers is, unlike Kournikova's, more clearly in-line with their on-court accomplishments. END.)

I mean, I'm far from Kournikova's biggest advocate-- I'd call myself more of a "casual" fan of hers-- but I thought some pro-Anna press, which is exceedingly hard to come by (the Sharapova profile on Yahoo! Sports' tennis page is a perfect example...), would be a nice change-of-pace.

jojoseph
Aug 27th, 2003, 06:38 AM
Yeah, I'd say that that was a pretty objective article.

I don't think her agent would allude to the retirement factor if she wasn't indeed close, even if only to get more people to show for anna's events and more attention to anna, which has been the case of late. Worked like a pro.

SerialKiller#69
Aug 27th, 2003, 11:17 AM
One of the better articles about Anna I've read in a while. Thanks for posting.

Unfortunately, Anna has too many fans not only with clouded objectivity but with poor reading comprehension skills as demonstrated yet again in this thread.

Lelu, I hope my memory doesn't fail me but weren't you the one who started a thread saying that you believe Anna's opponent in her 1st challenger event this year was paid to let Anna win. Ofcourse, you're not the one with clouded objectivity. :rolleyes:

doloresc
Aug 27th, 2003, 12:23 PM
very good article! i lost faith in kournikova a few years ago but it didn't prevent me from recognizing that she is talented. she's overflowing with it actually.

Lelu
Aug 27th, 2003, 10:00 PM
Lelu, I hope my memory doesn't fail me but weren't you the one who started a thread saying that you believe Anna's opponent in her 1st challenger event this year was paid to let Anna win. Ofcourse, you're not the one with clouded objectivity.

Killer, you memory still serves you OK, however, it appears there is a loose screw here and there. Yes, that was my thread and I posted that question but nowhere did I say I believed that this actually happened.

I guess my weird (I would like to call it unique) sense of humour is still largely unrecognizable. Better keep my day job......

goldenlox
Aug 27th, 2003, 10:20 PM
I don't think Anna wants to marry Prince William.
She likes to deal with the media on her terms.
Go Anna!!

jojoseph
Aug 27th, 2003, 10:54 PM
One of the better articles about Anna I've read in a while. Thanks for posting.

Unfortunately, Anna has too many fans not only with clouded objectivity but with poor reading comprehension skills as demonstrated yet again in this thread.

What? Who exactly are you referring to? And what exactly is the problem?