celebrity

After being the most Googled sports star in the world, Anna Kournikova seemed to disappear.

In 2010, tennis champion Anna Kournikova was the world’s most searched-for female sports star.

The Russian-born athlete never won a singles title, and made it to ‘just’ number eight in the world as her highest rank in 2000; but it was her off-court appeal that saw her popularity survive years after her tennis career was over.

Kournikova turned professional at age 14, and her grace and beauty made her an instant media darling. At the height of her tennis career in the mid 1990s to the early 2000s, and for years after, she had numerous endorsements with major brands such as Adidas, and was a regular feature on magazine covers and ‘sexiest people’ lists.

Fast forward a decade from 2010, and as the world’s best tennis stars compete in this year’s Wimbledon tournament, Kournikova, 38, is not on the scene. Instead, she’s concentrating on her two biggest fans; her 18-month-old twins, Lucy and Nicholas.

Why do tennis players have to wear white at Wimbledon? Post continues after video.

“I love being a mum. I absolutely wanted to have children, whether I had my own or adopted. I love taking care of people,” she recently told The Sun.

“When I got pregnant, I reduced the workload, and realised I want to devote all my time to children,” she added.

So what does Kournikova’s life look like, now?

Tennis is a former chapter; but Kournikova’s legacy remains.

Kournikova, who migrated to the United States when she was 10, retired at 21 in 2003 due to spinal problems, including a herniated disk.

Her career highlight was reaching the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1997, and a quarter-final at the Australian Open in 2001. But it’s what she began off-court for the sport of tennis that one of her coaches remembers her best for.

“Construction workers were watching tennis, business people were watching tennis. It wasn’t just normal country club corporate clients that were watching tennis now,” Ken Merritt said in 2015.

“Women’s tennis had a lot of TV deals after she was playing. There’s a lot of things Anna did for the sport that went well beyond the box scores of wins or losses.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Testament to that is the personal sponsorship and endorsement agreements she attracted. Kournikova reportedly earned a total $3.5 million in prize money on the Women’s Tennis Association tour, which was a comparatively small amount to the $10 million she earned from contracts with brands like Adidas, Omega, and Berlei.

The tennis champ still plays the occasional charity and special event, as she did with Martina Hingis at Wimbledon in 2010.

Kournikova is now a mum.

The notoriously private Kournikova did not make an official announcement about her pregnancy, and managed to avoid the paparazzi for its duration.

With her long-time partner Enrique Iglesias, 44, Kournikova welcomed her twins Lucy and Nicholas on December 16, 2017.

The family is based in Miami, and both parents post about the bubbly babies, demonstrating their enjoyment of parenthood.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#Россия #worldcup2018 #GoRussia

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on

 

View this post on Instagram

 

????????❤️???????? #россия #españa #мирдружбажвачка

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on

ADVERTISEMENT

Last year, when Kournikova posted her first post-baby workout to Instagram, negative comments were made about her physique, with some claiming she didn’t look like a woman who had given birth the twins a month prior.

As a former professional athlete, fitness is important to Kournikova, but in a recent interview she emphasised motherhood as her priority.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#monday #backatit ???????? ???? @ashleypeeler

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on


“Being with them is happiness. I am not ready to miss a single second,” she said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Kournikova is still in a relationship with Enrique Iglesias.

The Spanish singer and Kournikova have been involved since they first met on the set of his Escape music video in 2001.

They have been reportedly been separated, married, and even divorced in that time – but none of that has been confirmed by either party.

Marriage isn’t important to me. I believe in being open and trusting each other and respecting each other completely,” she told The Sun.

“We’ve been together for years. He’s the male version of me, and I’m the female version of him.”

Even their Instagram accounts very rarely link them together. For example, this photo of the couple (with Kournikova’s brother) is one of the few featuring both of them that they have willingly shared.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

❤️????????

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on


But it seems fatherhood may have mellowed Iglesias’ privacy resolve. In a recent interview, the singer said of the effect of kids on their relationship: “It’s probably more sex now than ever. The sex has not diminished.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Typical Saturday ????

A post shared by Enrique Iglesias (@enriqueiglesias) on

ADVERTISEMENT


Kournikova’s role in pop culture.

Kournikova hosted The Biggest Loser reality program in 2011 and even appeared in an episode of Friends as one of the ‘Spice Girls of Tennis’.

She also had a cocktail created in her honour in her homeland; a version of a White Russian, made with skim milk.

LISTEN: When should you start talking to your kids about exercise? Post continues after audio. 

Kournikova was the victim of a stalker in 2005.

In 2005, William Lepeska, 40, was arrested in Miami Beach when he allegedly swam in search of Kournikova’s waterfront home. Prior to that, he sent harassing messages to her website. She was successful in obtaining a restraining order against him.

“I was absolutely shocked and fearful, and I was very much concerned for my safety,” she said at the time.

“It’s frightening to know there is someone out there who’s obsessive.”

Kournikova is obsessed with her dogs.

Kournikova regularly posts photos and video of the family pets, dogs Max and Jack – who are almost, but not quite, as cute as the twins.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

???????????? ???? #kisses to #everyone from #us ????#welovelife #обнимашки #целовашки

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on

ADVERTISEMENT


Kournikova is still a coveted media identity.

Kournikova’s homeland continues to be proud of her. In May this year, she appeared on the cover of Russia’s Cosmopolitan magazine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Спасибо мой любимый @cosmopolitan_russia ???????????? ・・・ «Жить без стимула невозможно!» – уверяет героиня нашего коллекционного юбилейного номера Анна Курникова. Специально в честь 25-летия Cosmopolitan в России легендарная теннисистка дала свое первое интервью после рождения детей! О семье, карьере, жизни в Америке и о том, что все возможно, стоит лишь захотеть! Читай в новом Cosmo! #cosmo25 _______________________________________________ Наша классная команда ????????????????????????Photo: Marc Baptiste @marcbaptiste007 @nonamemanagement Style: Danny Santiago @the_danny_santiago Elena Dudina @dudinaelena_cosmo MUA: Davide Calcinai @davidemk Hair styling: Steven Hoeppner @stevenhoeppner Hair color: Laura Zerbolio @lmzcolor Nails: Jessica Mendez @arcayne_beauty Producer : Anastasia Fridman @nastya_fridman Location: EAST, Miami @eastmia earrings: @jacobandco

A post shared by ???? Anna ????Аня (@annakournikova) on

Speaking about her fame, Kournikova said: “It’s really strange, it feels like it happened to me but it didn’t happen to me because it was such a long time ago. I played in every single continent by the time I was 16.

“It was an interesting way to grow up. When I stopped, most people had just come out of college and I was stopping the only thing I knew.”

Kournikova’s popularity has proven enduring, as she still has more than a million followers on Instagram.

But even a quick glance at the content she’s posting on shows that she’s now all about the two biggest fans in her life – her babies.

Nama Winston has had a decade-long legal career (paid), and a decade-long parenting career (unpaid). Now a Mamamia Contributor and freelance writer, Nama uses her past experience as a lawyer to discuss everything from politics, to parenting. You can follow her on Instagram: @namawinston and Facebook: @NamaWinston.

00:00 / ???