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Smashing! (FHM Magazine)

September 2001



It would all just be a load of Huffing and Grunting without the Charms of Moscow's Finest

There are not many things in your life that you would Kiss the open-toed sandals of monks for Bestowing upon this world. But it was our cassock-wearing brethren that, in between tending their bees and brewing fine ales, formulated the game of tennis. It was in the 12th century that French monks would take rest from their vows of Silence to string a rope across the monastery's courtyard and paddle a ball back and forth shouting "tenez" or "take this", as they struck each service. But it been the appearances on center court for the past 4 years of 20 year old Anna Kournikova that has kept the sports popularity at an all time high. Accordingly, FHM has given you the most amazing pictures of Anna ever published. "This was the most fun shoot I've ever had. I was more relaxed than usual, you can see in my face that I was pretty excited to be doing it" says Anna, who spent a couple of days Acapulco Mexico, posing for pictures. "I did it when I first had my injury (stress fracture of the foot) so I wouldn't worry about spending my energy on the photos rather than tennis."

The tennis prodigy was born in Moscow on 7th June 1981 and started whacking balls around at the age of five. When she turned seven she enrolled at a Russian sports academy and within a year had won her first tournament, when she was 10 she started to divide her time between Florida and her home city. "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 racquets, tennis courts and lots of kids to play with."

Currently ranked number 11 in the world, Anna has been a pro since she was 14, which has meant traveling around the world, playing in tournaments for most of the year – luckily her parents Alla and Sergei have been there to support her. "In tennis you have to travel 11 months of the year, so you need somebody close with you," she's said. "There are good days and bad days – you need someone to talk to. My parents are with me, otherwise it would get difficult and very lonely." There are 2.4 million webpages and counting devoted to Anna and she's under constant scrutiny from the world's media, although it's something that Muscovite has got used to. "I spent a few days in London recently" she says. "It was kind a fun but there was so many people following me everywhere. I had to stop shopping after that."

These pictures are the sexiest we've seen of you. Is this you showing your mature image?
Anna: "No, this is just me, ya know; it's the way I am. I never try to play a role for someone else. It's natural, the photographer was great, Bill, he's a friend of mine, so we had lots of fun and laughed. It was all spontaneous."

You started playing tennis when you were five ? what sort of training did you do at such a tender age?
Anna: "It was just fun ? my parents didn't know that I was going to play professional, they just wanted me to do something because I had lost of energy. It was only when I started playing well at seven that I went to professional school. I would go to Kindergarten and then my parents would take me to the club and I'd spend the rest of the afternoon there just having fun with the kids. My parents would pick me up at nine when it got dark."

Is it true that when McDonalds opened a restaurant in Moscow you were in the queue waiting for it to open?
Anna: "Me and my cousin went. We stood in the line for a very long time. It was pretty exciting."

Were you disappointed when the fare arrived?
Anna: "No, I pretty much like fast-food but I don't eat it often. But when you don't have much time you sometimes just crave a burger, but it was fun and something new."

Do you ever think you missed out on leading a normal life?
Anna: "Not at all. I think that I have always had fun with tennis. It's not like I had to do it when I was little, I just really loved it and I still do. I can't imagine myself doing anything else."

What's the angriest moment you're ever had on court?
Anna: "I don't really know. Of course you can get angry when you're not playing well, but there's nothing I've done crazy."

So you are not a racquet smasher?
Anna: "No, not really. When I was growing up we never had racquets and it's my instrument I play with, so how could I hit it? I think I broke one racquet on purpose in my whole life."

What sort of things goes on backstage at the major competitions?
Anna: " Everybody does their own thing. We share the same locker rooms; it's not like team sports which have their own."

There were recently huge posters all over London's train stations of you just wearing a sports bra. Don't you find that strange?
Anna: "Well, it is a sports bra, so it's the same as wearing a sports top. It's not something that's really like underwear."

You get snapped everytime you go out ? are you always conscious of what you are wearing?
Anna: "Err? no. Of course, I do pay attention to what I'm wearing but I wouldn't just get dressed up for people who are going to photograph me. I wear what's comfortable, what I like and what's me."

You've earned a lot of money. What's been your biggest extravagance so far?
Anna: "Well, I like my house in Florida. But I'm always careful; I wouldn't go and just spend loads of money on clothes or something."

But you must have spent lots of money on getting your house just right?
Anna: "No, I just walked in there and said, " Wow, I want this", although I am building a wall around it now so people cannot take any photographs. The only other thing that I spend money on is my little baby dog. He's a miniature Doberman called Genie ? like the genie in the bottle."

Did you name him after that Christina Aguilera tune Genie in a bottle?
Anna: "I didn't call him that because of the song. Originally his name was Gen. I don't have much time to pamper him, I just get him vaccinated like crazy. I love Dobermans ? they look like horses, they are so elegant and graceful. I had one when I was little so I love that dog."

FHM has scores of males readers who love you: what would a man have to do to impress you?
Anna: "Just be themselves; it has to come naturally."

Do you have a specific type of man?
Anna: "No, natural. You can't wish for something specific because you might get that and be disappointed. You've got to feel it."

What other things do you like doing apart from playing tennis?
Anna: "I like Russian books like Chekov and Tolstoy; being with my family, playing with my dog."

Do you have ambitions outside tennis? You were in "Me, Myself & Irene" for instance.
Anna: "Not right now, my main goal is tennis. I love it and I'm going to keep it that way and try and do my best. I did that movie really quickly ? it was just for fun, it's not like I want to become an actress. I only saw it for the first time two months ago, when I was injured."

You Live in Miami, which is quite the wild city ? what's been your most exciting night out?
Anna: "When I'm home I hardly ever go out. I just want to stay at home and have some sushi for dinner, nothing wild and crazy. But even for my birthday, we just went to a restaurant- close friends and family. We just ate and went back to the hotel."





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