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article published in Russia's national newspaper "Moskowsky Komsomoletz"




Anna from heaven

by our special correspondent Elena Shpiz, Paris

Today "MK" (Moskowsky Komsomoletz) has decided to pay special attention to a tennis player who does not take part in tournaments for now. But she's still recognized by the public as much as the brightest stars of today's world of tennis. And it's impossible not to mention her name today - on her birthday. Anna Kournikova turns 25 on June 7th. She'll celebrate her anniversary in USA... What a paradox: The girl with such a Russian image, with that fair braid (once insured for $ 1.000.000), Kournikova became an idol in the United States and an alien in Russia. Everyone used to think she's an arrogant star without having won a single title in her pro career! But there are friends of Anna, who have absolutely different opinions about her.

About Anna being the first one out of Russia who "made it"
Olga Morozova: "I don't think that in Anna's behaviour, in all these situations, that she has created to herself such a reputation in Russia, is only her fault. It happened just because Anna had absolutely no experience in such things as fame. The popularity came to her in such an early age, that she simply didn't know how to behave. But Masha Sharapova, who won Wimbledon as a 17-year-old, had learned how to deal with journalists, and she's always open and correct. She doesn't have such pathos as Anna...Everyone remembers how Alla demanded for an interview with her daughter for 10 thousand dollars...They simply didn't realize at that time the situations which will follow for such an behaviour. You have to understand this: There wasn't such a star of international level in Russia before Anna. She was the first one. And it's her - by her own steps and mistakes - who has opened the way upwards to Russian tennis girls. She brought world's interest to Russian female tennis - there are thousands of Russian girls who follow her way these days."

Do you think that it was possible for Kournikova to become the world No.1 in tennis?
Olga Morozova: "Yes, it was. Without any doubt. She could be No.1, she had enormous potential. And the reason why it didn't happen is again the lack of experience! She was broken off between Russia and America. And these two are completely different schools of tennis game, and Anya happened to be just between them. I think her mother has taken her away abroad too early...As I know, she was invited to Nick Bolletiertierri's tennis academy at the same time as Marat Safin. The difference is that he didn't want to stay there, and Anya wanted. Well, there were parents who played the key role in the final decision. For example, Marat's mom didn't want him to be so far away. And Anya's mother considered that staying there will be better for her daughter. You know, parents always are rushing - thinking how to make every tiny thing for their child on top-level. And when you have no experience, you got to test everything on your own mistakes."

Natalia Koptzova (the host on the tennis channel "NTV+"):
Natalia Koptzova: "When Anya came from America to Moscow, there were absolutely incredible situations. In Nick Bolletierri's Academy they taught her to shout when she's hitting the ball."

So it came from there, these shouts?
Natalia Koptzova: "Well yeah! And just because everyone in our school wanted to be 'just like Kournikova', they followed her in this thing, too! Everyone suddenly began to shout!"

Has there been envy, rage from other young russian players?
Olga Morozova: "Everyone envied Anna. Perhaps, that's why all the problems had begun. Because nobody told her how to behave in such situations without awaking in people their envy and rage."

About Sergei Fedorov and his parents:
Olga Morozova: "A few years ago Sergey Fedorov came to Moscow - the one who supposed to be Anna's husband for a period of time. He came together with his parents. And I had a very sincere talk with them. And I can say - Sergey's mom told, that she likes Anya, despite of all that pain she caused to her son. Everyone who met this couple can approve that he really loved Anna. And Sergey's mother - avery beautiful blue-eyed woman - said to me: 'You got to understand that Anechka was an absolutely young, incredibly bright and rich girl. She simply didn't know what to do with all this. Everything seemed accessible to her, and she always was the person who enjoys living. She wanted bright sensations. She could depart on photoshooting somewhere in the mountains in the morning - and then appear on court of some serious tournament in the evening. And I don't blame her at all! On her place there's absolutely no one who could easily overcome all that sudden fame and money."

About the decisions by Anna's team:
Olga Morozova: "I think Anna had a good team and supporters but at the same time it's their fault in Anna's situation, too. They should help her with her priorities. In fact, she really wanted to play tennis. And she really could play. Well...If she just thought a little less how her face looks for the camera's operators when she is serving."

Do you congratulate Anna to her 25th birthday?
Anastasia Myskina: "Of course, I'll congratulate Anechka from the bottom of my heart! And I shall wish her to have less stresses, first of all."

Does it still happen?
Anastasia Myskina: "Certainly. She leads a very active life."

She misses tennis, how do you think Nastya?
Anastasia Myskina: "I think she has a lot of interests in her life even without tennis."

About the "real" Anna:
Natalia Koptzova: "And you know, I remember, how Anya and Elena Likhovtzeva went to a zoo during the Australian Open. Anya examined the koalas with such an interest and with such a kind, touching look on her face! She even quoted some cartoons. How in the world she found the time to watch cartoons?! I think it's people who was around her made everyone think that she's a monster. But when she remains in private with herself, like it was in that zoo, she becomes herself - she's child..."

What is the reason of Anya's friendship with Myskina and Likhovtseva - does she miss Russia?
Natalia Koptzova: "Well, in fact she never lost touch with the tennis life! She's watching all the tournaments. I heard her calling to our girls - she was congratulating them, asking how are they. She's always worryied about them."

About Anna:
Elena Likhovtseva: "Anya is very good friend. We played doubles together for a long time. When we started we were outside the first hundred, and together we reached up the fifty. And then Anya began to play with Martina Hingis, who was the world No.1 already."

Any influence of that broke-up to your friendship?
Elena Likhovtseva: "Certainly no. For example, I played doubles with Vera Zvonareva for a long time, but our last results were not brilliant, so for now I play with Nastya Myskina. In tennis it's a usual thing."

You' ve told that Anya is a very good friend. What makes you think so?
Elena Likhovtseva: "I know that she'll always support me, in any time. And of course, I always like even simply chatting with her."

So she's not one of those silly blonde-type girls?
Elena Likhovtseva: "To be in Anna's company is very interesting and comfortable. I have absolutely no idea why someone has such a wrong and negative opinion about her. She's very smart, reliable and a very kind person. She always was a great friend for me."

About Krasnorutzkaya and trauma:
Olga Morozova: "The main thing, of course, is that trauma. Lina Krasnorutzkaya left tennis the same painful way. She was the brightest rising star of her age. And then traumas followed, and it become necessary to finish her career - though she was just twenty years old. It is good, that she's found herself on TV, thanks to Anna Dmitrieva. It gave her an opportunity to remain in tennis."





 Find out more at Anna's offical website: