Anna Kournikova – tennis star and global brand

Anna Kournikova was born on June 7, 1981, in Moscow. 

At the age of 5, she was already playing tennis with her friends and soon progressed to playing in a tennis club in Moscow.

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Kournikova wrote in the book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Extraordinary Teens: Personal Stories and Advice from Today’s Most Inspiring Youth, “I played well and I enjoyed the sport so my parents challenged me some more. Two years later, I began taking lessons at a professional tennis club where a lot of the current Russian tennis players were trained.”

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She continued: “Sure enough, tennis quickly became my life, my outlet, my circle of friends, and my community. My coach was my second mother. Everything in my life was about tennis and training. Somehow I knew, even though I was just a kid, that I didn’t have many other options. At the time, life in Russia was tough – there weren’t that many opportunities there like there are in the United States.”

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It was quite obvious she had potential and she was soon discovered by IMG Tennis, a global tennis management company. At the age of 13, they helped her to make her first million. 

People always talked about her, because of her talent and her looks, an edge she had over others.

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Rothenburg said on the No Challenges Remaining podcast, the News York Times Tennis writer, “Even before her results started, even when she was a junior, people talked about her at IMG – which is creepy and gross, but it still happens to this day; ‘Oh my God, you should see this 12-year-old, she’s beautiful. People saw her as this package, and she became that.”

At the age of 14, Kournikova was already a pro and no one could beat her.

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Anna Kournikova said, “For a lot of sports, most people don’t start playing professionally at fourteen, but tennis is one of those sports where rigorous training starts at a very young age. As I remember it, it wasn’t even a question of turning pro or not. I was groomed for so many years in preparation for this opportunity that I never even questioned it, I was both eager and hungry to prove myself on the WTA tour…. I had won everything I could win on the Junior Circuit so I was excited to move on to the next level.”

Instagram/Annakournikova

Anna became a walking brand as her fame was quite spreading over the world. She became the first female tennis star to go commercial. She was getting endorsements from sports bra companies and watches, and at the age of 18, she was already a sex symbol.

Today she’s retired, living with her husband and children. She created an empire worth more than $50 million.

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