|She is the most keenly watched player in the world. Her beauty, talent and poise have proved irresistible. Anna Kournikova, both Russian and American, is a phenomenon of the post-Cold War era. She took time out for an interview during her exclusive photoshoot for the December issue of Inside Sport.
Where does your competitive streak come from?
Anna: "I was born with it. Everything in life is a competition."
Who were your heroes as a young girl?
Anna: "I admired many players. Monica Seles, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi."
Is it starting to concern you that you haven't won a tournament on tour?
Anna: "No, not really. All I can do is play my best. I feel I always have a chance in every tournament and that my time will come."
Which Grand Slam Title would you say you have the best chance of winning?
Anna: "I think I have a chance in all of them. Not one in particular. I just need to play my best."
What would mean more to you: winning a Grand Slam Title or an Olympic gold medal?
Anna: "A Grand Slam Title."
We hear a lot about rivalry among the top women players. Who do you most enjoy beating?
Anna: "I enjoy every win that I have. Every win gives me satisfaction, because all the girls are competitive and the tour is so even and tough."
Do you still call Russia home?
Anna: "Of course. It's where I was born, where I grew up. But I love America, too."
If you had to lose either your tennis ability or your looks, which would go?
Anna: "Ah, I would keep both."
Do you think you would ever go out with another tennis player?
Anna: "Why not? I wouldn't say that couldn't happen. I would have to go with my heart, you know?"
Do you feel other women players resent your beauty?
Anna: "No. I haven't felt that."
Do you feel other players try harder against you because of all the attention you attract?
Anna: "No. I feel all the players try their hardest against everyone, every match they play."
You seem a very happy person. Do you have enough killer instinct to reach the top?
Anna: "Oh, definitely.I want very much to do well. I have always been very competitive. I smile, yes, but that doesn't mean I don't want to win."
Is there time for a boyfriend in your life?
Anna: "There's time. But he would have to be understanding. He would have to understand that often I will be travelling and playing."
What qualities do you appreciate in a man?
Anna: "Honesty, strength, blond - oh no, then all the boys will dye their hair. He just has to be gentle but strong, with a big heart. He has to know what it takes, how hard it is to succeed."
What are your main interests away from tennis?
Anna: "Shopping, the beach, eating - especially chocolate."
Who are your favourite bands?
Anna: "Really I just love to hear music on the radio, the music of the moment."
Do you believe men's tennis is boring?
What's your favourite TV show?
When you were in Australia two years ago, you apparently asked to meet "the blond one" - Shane Warne. Why did you want to meet him and what was he like?
Anna: "He was very nice. The whole cricket team was nice. But I don't think it was that I had to meet "the blond one". I think somebody asked ME to meet him."
Find out more at Anna's offical website: