Anna Kournikova may have started her professional career as a tennis player but the Russian’s striking looks soon had her attracting fans for altogether different reasons.
At one time one of the most searched for names on Google, Kournikova’s professional playing career began when she was just 14, back in late 1994, and earned a call up to the Fed Cup with Russia.
She made her grand slam debut at the 1996 US Open, where the 15-year-old made it all the way to the fourth round of the tournament.
Things would get even better for Kournikova a year later when she reached the semi-final of Wimbledon on her debut at the grass court championships before eventually losing to Martina Hingis.
Hingis and Kournikova went on to strike up a prolific doubles partnership that saw them dubbed the “Spice Girls of Tennis”. Together they won two Australian Open titles, reached the final of the French Open and made it to two Wimbledon semi-finals.
Kournikova to enjoy moderate success as a singles player as the 90s came to a close but was increasingly attracting attention for her work away from the courts.
The Russian’s stunning looks made her a favourite of lads magazines the world over and even landed her a starring role in the music video to the Enrique Iglesias hit Escape.
With injuries persisting in the early 2000s, most notable back and spinal problems, Kournikova took the decision to retire from tennis at the age of just 21.
Now living in Miami Beach, Florida, Kournikova continues to play in exhibition games and stays busy with media and charity work.
A cameo in the Jim Carrey comedy Me, Myself and Irene kicked things off, while she also served as a trainer on the hit weight loss series The Biggest Loser. Her influence on popular culture also prompted the creation of a special variation of the popular cocktail, White Russian (it’s basically the same drink but with skimmed milk).
Once romantically linked to Iglesias, the pair were rumoured to have married and more recently separated. Kournikova has refused to be drawn on her personal life.
Now 36, and a fully fledged American citizen since 2010, Kournikova appears pretty much the same as ever on Instagram, where the Russian’s love of dogs and staying fit and healthy shines through.
And while she may not be the star she once was, her name continues to rank highly on Google searches.
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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.