I must admit, all those years ago, I had little interest in women's tennis. I had even less interest in those brutish ace-bashing men.
It must be a very long time ago when Anna Kournikova picked up a tennis racquet to start her professional tennis career. It may sound a bit sexist, but men being men, I was struck by her beautify before her ample tennis skills. In fact, such was her popularity with fans searching for her images on the internet that her name became one of the most common search strings on Google Search.
The Russian beauty may have never won singles titles she became one of the best-known tennis players in the world. She had success ranking 8th best in the world in 2000. She was a world no 1 in the doubles partnering Martina Hinges to win four major championships. This included Grand Slam titles in Australia (1999, 2002), WTA Championships in 1999 and 2000. The pair were known as the ''Spice Girls'' of tennis.
In a short-lived career, Kournikova retired from tennis at the age of 21 due to serious back and spinal problems (including a herniated disk).
These days she plays the occasional exhibition match and resides at Miami Beach, Florida, USA. She has lived in America since 1989.
In addition, she has been popular on TV including The Biggest Loser. Series 12 she was a new trainer replacing Jillian Michaels. However, she didn't return for series 13.
Also, serving as a Global Ambassador for Population Services Internationals ''Five & Alive'' program which addresses health crises facing children under 5 years of age and their families.
A few facts about Anna Kournikova you didn't know:
Her father, Sergei, is a doctor and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow.
Her younger brother, Alan, is a youth gold world champion.
Anna Kournikova received her first tennis racquet as a New Year's gift in 1986, at the age of 5.
She said, "I played two times a week from age six. 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."
After arriving in America in 1989, she became prominent on the tennis scene. At 14, she won the European Championships and the Italian Open Junior Tournament. By the end of the year, she was crowned ITF Junior World Champion U-18.
In 1995, (aged 14) she received a wildcard entry and making her debut in the WTA Tour in Russia, the Moscow Ladies Open, qualifying but knocked out in the second round to third seed Sabine Applemans.
1998 - 2000 saw Kournikova reach the pinnacle of her career when breaking into the top 20 rankings of the WTA (16). By the end of 1999, she was ranked 12th in the World (WTA).
In 2001 - 2003, her career was dominated by injury.
Her total prize earning stand at $3,584,662
Her net worth $50 Million.
Guest post: Jason Coote