Sergei said: "We were young and we liked the clean, physical life, so Anna was in a good environment for sport from the beginning." 1
The family name is spelled in Russian without an "o", so a direct translation would be "Kurnikova", and it is sometimes written that way. But it is pronouced "Kournikova", so the family chose that as their english spelling.
Anna received her first tennis racquet as a Christmas gift in 1986 at age 5. Anna says: "I played two times a week from age five. It was a children's program. And it was just for fun; my parents didn't know I was going to play professionally, they just wanted me to do something because I had lots of energy. It was only when I started playing well at seven that I went to a professional academy. I would go to school, and then my parents would take me to the club, and I'd spend the rest of the day there just having fun with the kids." 2
Anna played her first tennis at Moscow's Soklniki Park and at age 7 joined the prestigious Spartak Tennis Club, associated with Russian pro Olga Morozova. Anna was coached at Spartak by Larissa Preobrazhenskaya, a well-known Russian teaching pro who had been the Soviet Union’s first Fed Cup coach in 1968. Larissa said: "In our first group of children, Anna was the one who didn’t give up at once. Some of the other girls ran and jumped better than she did, but little Anna couldn’t stay in second place. When I saw that, I offered to train her." Anna recalled: "All the kids loved [Preobrazhenskaya], because her best quality was patience. She would feed us balls all day and supervise our playing. Really, she was like a second mother to us, and that made us feel very protected. Playing there at Spartak for nine hours a day, I saw more of her than I saw of my real mother." 1
Recalling her childhood, Anna said: "I had dolls, but I was never really into girly stuff. My favorite toys were my stuffed animals, although I didn't give them enough of my time. I would just visit with them for maybe five minutes every morning, and then I was running off to find something more active to do. I had too much energy... Mostly, I just wanted to play tennis for eight hours a day, watch tennis videos, eat, and fall into bed, dead." 1
Within a year, Anna had won her first junior tournament, and soon drew the attention of professional tennis scouts.
In the fall of 1991, when Anna was ten, Eugene L. Scott (editor of Tennis Week magazine) saw Anna play in the juniors of a tournament he had organized in Moscow. Scott told Paul Theofanous, an IMG (International Management Group) agent about Anna. Theofanous said: "I kind of laughed it off at first, but then I saw her hit at the 1991 Kremlin Cup, and I started hearing from too many other people that this was one extraordinary talent." After Theofanous had phone discussions with Anna's mother Alla, Anna signed a contract with IMG. 3,4
Later, in his book, My Aces, My Faults (written with the late Dick Schaap, 1996), Bolletieri said:
About her time at the Bolletieri Academy, Anna says: "From August to May, I'd be in Miami, and then I would spend the summer in Moscow. It was very different in America, but the Academy made everything easy for me. There were great facilities. I had lots of fruit, tennis balls, tennis rackets, tennis courts, and lots of kids to play with."
By 1993, Anna was winning titles in the "18s" tournaments (for girls 18 or younger), and the St. Petersburg Times referred to her as "the latest teen phenom". She was 11 years old.
In his book Topspin, Elliot Berry describes watching Anna playing in the US Open Juniors in 1994:
At 1994's year-end "18s" Rolex Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships in Miami Beach, Anna, seeded 9th, lost in the final on Christmas Eve to Marian Ramon of Spain, 5-7, 4-6.
The following year, 1995, Anna dominated junior tennis. She was a French Open juniors quarterfinalist, and a Wimbledon juniors semifinalist, and won the European Championships and Italian Open juniors. In the Christmas Eve Orange Bowl "18s" final, Anna defeated Sandra Nacuk of Yugoslavia 6-3, 6-2, and finished the year as the ITF Junior World Champion.
Next: 2. Professional Career 3. Anna Offcourt
by Peter Bodo
by Richard Calpin
FHM Sept. 2001
3: Kournikova, Anna
by Patrick Kelly
Jan. 2002 p. 74
4: New York Times
April 23, 1992
B, p. 13
5: Player Profile:
August 24th, 1999
June 23, 2002
by Matthew Cronin
July 26, 2002
10: Interview with
August 14, 2002
Anna Kournikova Post-Match Interviews
June 6, 2000
Anna Kournikova pages at quickfound.net:
- Anna Kournikova Biography:
1. The Early Years 2. Professional Career 3. Anna Offcourt
- News and Links (Kournikova Home)
- Anna Kournikova News Archive
- Anna Kournikova Record: 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1994-1995
- Kournikova 2002 Doubles Record
- Kournikova Interviews Archive
- Anna Kournikova 2002 Australian Open Photos
- Anna Kournikova Photos and Posters (4 pages)
This page's URL is: http://sports.quickfound.net/anna_kournikova_biography.html