Born in Moscow, Anna was a Soviet tennis prodigy—a raquet-swinging Gary Kasparov, if you will—winning European-wide amateur tourneys against much older opponents. At 14, she won the junior Italian Open, finished the year as the Under-18 European Champion and turned pro. At 15, she reached the fourth round of the 1996 U.S. Open, and at 16, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, where she lost to the eventual champ Martina Hingis. But she would never get much closer to a singles title than that, despite being ranked as high as No. 8 in the world (for tennis, not sexiness…her sexiness ratings are higher). She did, however, prove skillful on the doubles circuit, winning 16 doubles championships, including two Australian Opens (something about the sun down there agreed with her body).
Suffering from chronic back problems, Anna retired from tennis in 2003, although she has said that if she gets completely healthy again, she’d like to return. Outside tennis, she has kept busy posing for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, appearing in Enrique Iglesias’s “Escape” video, playing a fetching Motel Manager in Me, Myself & Irene (Renee Zellweger) and serving as the “face” of Berlei’s shock-absorbing sports bra (slogan: “Only the ball should bounce”).
Looking ahead, you can find Anna back on the court in the occasional charity game, and even as a doubles player for the Sacramento Capitals in the World Team Tennis league. And we’re pretty sure there are many more scantily clad calendars in the future. Clearly, when it comes to making guys crazy, it’s still advantage, Kournikova.
In the fall of 2011 itwas announced that Anna will be the new host of the hit reality television show The Biggest Loser, after a guest appearance in 2010.
94 Sex Appeal
Has anyone ever looked better in a tennis outfit (we are so grateful for those short white skirts)? Not likely — Anna Kournikova is sculpted like a goddess. The tennis court was her stage, where she simultaneously (and successfully) flirted with and stunned thousands of admirers. This Russian pinup had the power of filling up arenas when she was scheduled to play. How many women can be credited with the same feat?
Men’s magazines like FHM always have included her among the hottest women, and she was named Sexiest Woman in the World in FHM‘s 100 Sexiest Girls poll in 2002. Her sex appeal has also managed to sell calendars, and the Sports Illustrated issue with Anna Kournikova on the cover was one of the highest-selling issues the magazine has ever published. So it looks like Anna Kournikova’s sexiness is unanimous: it doesn’t get much hotter than her.