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Kournikova in the Hot Zone 03/25/2010 - 3:02 PM


by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. Obsessing over Roger Federer's inability to convert match points? Agitated over the condition of Rafael Nadal's wisdom teeth? Bummed that you won't get to see what Ashley Harkleroad looks like with her clothes on (she already lost her first-round match in Florida)? It's all part of gearing up for Miami. And speaking of crossover stars, I'm hoping to bump into Anna Kournikova down there next week. I had a nice telephone visit with her just a few weeks ago.

The subject, then, was the December USO tour that took Anna to Iraq, Afghanistan and a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Also along on the trip: Nick Bollettieri, comedian David Attell, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and Kim Dozier, the CBS news correspondent who was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2006. That's Anna above, with Attell (photo credit to U.S. Navy petty officer 1st class Chad J. McNeeley). The group was shepherded by U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The mission was the familiar one: holiday season morale and comfort building for the U.S. troops based overseas. These USO tours are not the typical celebrity drive-bys, nobody who ever took part in one ever mistook it for hosting a charity golf pro-am, or a Las Vegas New Year's Eve party. Let's start with the fact that the participants don't get paid a dime; they're obliged at times to wear forty pounds of protective body armor and helmets; they travel "in country" in military helicopters, and run - not unlike soldiers in a hot zone - on caffeine and adrenaline.

Going back some years, to the heyday of Kournikova's notoriety, you might feel obliged to ask, "Anna Kournikova and the USO? Who woulda thunk it?"

At the peak of her career, Kournikova was often described as a prematurely haughty starlet who was overly engaged in manipulating the public with her sex appeal (her No. 1 ranking as a Internet search term surpassed her career-high singles ranking by seven places).  Some saw Kournikova as Lolita ver. 2.5, or a precursor to the Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan generation; let's remember, Kournikova famously called out to a fan who proposed marriage, "You can't afford me!"

And when did it become a crime to issue a withering put-down of the kind that gained Kournikova such notoriety? The kind of piety that Kournikova's remark teased out of some makes me roll my eyes, much like the professed horror of those who think Pete Sampras's tipping habits constitute some sort of judgment on his character. Some people will leap on any opportunity to declare their moral superiority.

When it came to Kournikova, I was always more interested the spunky but determined child who recognized her charms for what they were - tools. And even back then I was curious about the tomboy who used to get chased away from the supermarket near where she lived for whacking tennis balls at the exterior wall, who had no use for dolls, and was interested in boys only insofar as she could make a game of being chased (literally) by them. When I wrote a Tennis magazine cover story on Kournikova in the spring of 2001, it was that dimension of Kournikova's personality and (untold) history that intrigued me and led me to go on an exhibition tour in South America to spend a little time with her. It was a fruitful trip.

Anna, I learned, was often chastised for the same ball-whacking offense in the lobby of the apartment building where she lived, because growing up with her parents and grandparents in an apartment that she described as "six or eight meters square" didn't give her much opportunity to practice at home. When we spoke recently, I reminded her of the way she described the difficulties of developing a world-class game in Moscow as the spearhead of the Russian WTA revolution: "We often played with tennis balls that had no hair."

Knowing a little about how far Kournikova had come, I was always irritated when people - including scores who failed to distinguish themselves despite having far, far more opportunity - suggested that Kournikova was merely a media sensation, or ridiculed her for having become so famous while not having won a single WTA title. Scads of WTA players who won tournaments never came close to matching Kournikova's career-high singles ranking of No. 8, nor her two Grand Slam doubles titles. And the one thing I do know is that they don't sell or give away those ranking numbers and titles. And how good are you at what you do, bucko?

Of course, that's all ancient history. That controversy has run its course, and the Kournikova who emerged from it is appealing in a different, more fundamental and substantial way.  My pal El Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated had the same feeling after spending some time with Anna not long ago. He was amused by how genuinely mortified and apologetic she was when he reminded her of some of her imperious, youthful transgressions. As is so often true in cases like Kournikova's, it's a good idea to wait until someone grows up before we being making judgments about his or her character.

In addition to three tours for the USO, Anna is involved with the Boy's and Girl's Clubs of America and Population Services International (she has toured Haiti and Russia on behalf of that organization). If you want to engage her on a topic of humanitarian interest, she's happy to talk about the push for better world health, clean water, or the battle against malaria. "It gives me emotional satisfaction to know that with the name I acquired through tennis, sports, bikini photo shoots and all that, that I can bring attention to causes I care about," she told me. "It makes me feel that I now am giving back."

Some of you may react cynically to the idea of Anna Kournikova as a sort of South Beach Mother Teresa, but she makes no claim to that. But also ask yourself, just how notorious has Kournikova been since she was forced off the tour by persistent back problems? I read the New York Post on the subway every day and I haven't seen much of Kournikova on the infamous Page 6. I know that she's been in a long relationship with the pop star Enrique Iglesias, but she seems to live at the edge of the celebrity radar screen. And that's certainly by design rather than choice, or lack thereof.

88269761 Anna told me that the USO tour was a pretty exhausting drill (this was her third). Although Bollettieri and Kournikova spent a fair amount of time together, they had little time to reminisce about her early years at Nick's eponymous tennis academy (he was her career-long coach). "Our schedule on tour was to leave at 6 am and get back to our rooms at midnight," Anna told me. "Then we had the 'bag drag' at 4:30 am. So we slept four hours a night, sometimes with no heat, six to a room. Of course, having grown up in Russia, I was used to the brutal cold in Afghanistan. But I still got the flu. Everybody was breaking down. And whenever we had a quiet moment on a plane, we tried to nap. It was very draining, physically, but completely worth it."

I always felt that life as a tennis glamorpuss took Kournikova by surprise, at an age when she was still very impressionable and apt, because of her background, to take full advantage of every opportunity that came her way. This, after all, was the same girl who showed up for her very first lesson with Nick Bollettieri on a day when he was running a little late with a previous pupil. When the precise time of Anna's lesson arrived, she marched right onto the court, interrupting the ongoing lesson, and declared that she was present, and ready to start playing. Brazen hussy, or eager, determined pup? Come to your own conclusions.

There's a toughness about Kournikova - how could there not be? And she also has a good, long memory. She doesn't flee from her past or feel shame about the straits from which she emerged to become a star and celebrity of remarkable reach. "I remember how I got to where I am, I never forget it," she told me. "And I also feel like I earned it. But to this day I still take care of my own s*it. I go to the grocery store, the gas station, do all the everyday things for myself.  I don't see life any other way. I like to care of myself and my stuff, and also the people around me. To me, the life of privilege is great,  but I never forget where I came from and what's important - which is relations, people, what you do with your life."

Maybe that doesn't exactly qualify as wisdom for the ages. But it wasn't offered up as if it were, either. And according to her own website, Kournikova's favorite non-sporting activities are reading and barbecuing. So much for the fast lane.

I wondered if Anna had plans to start her own family. She said, "I'm not sure about marriage, although I've been in an eight-year relationship (with Iglesias). Somehow, I never dreamed of wearing a pouffy white dress. And the older I've gotten, the more I just appreciate myself and know myself, so when I think of having a family of my own these days I think, if I feel like this at 28, imagine how much more able I'll be to be a good mother at something like 31. I'm in no hurry."

Anna advised me to make sure my own son "doesn't get into texting," adding, "When I work with the Boy's and Girl's clubs, I really see how important it is to have human interactions. Nowadays, kids sit upstairs and their parents say, 'Come down to eat in 10 minutes.' So what do the kids do? Text. What can 10-year olds text about? When I was 10, we didn't even have cell phones, it was all about interactions."

Yes, but that was long ago and far away. And only Anna Kournikova really knows just how far.

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Posted by Christopher 03/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

"Kournikova famously called out to a fan who proposed marriage, 'You can't afford me!'"

I think you may actually be thinking of this famous moment from Steffi, not Anna:

Posted by CherryNYC 03/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

Is it posible I'm first 2 days in a row? No way. This was lovely, Pete.

Posted by CherryNYC 03/25/2010 at 03:43 PM

No, not possible.

Posted by CherryNYC 03/25/2010 at 03:45 PM

Thanks for that, Christopher. I actually remember watching that and cracking up, because it seemed so out of character for Graf.

Posted by Kombo 03/25/2010 at 04:00 PM


Posted by greenhopper 03/25/2010 at 04:04 PM

I liked this, thanks Pete.

And ohmygod, she's only 28 ?!?

Posted by Sherlock 03/25/2010 at 04:05 PM

I thought Steffi said something like, "How much money do you have?" :)

Thanks for a great read, Pete. I never knew much about Miss Anna. Always interesting to learn things later that challenge one's initial impressions.

Posted by Sherlock 03/25/2010 at 04:06 PM

Kombo, what's with the yawn?

Posted by Legoboy 03/25/2010 at 04:27 PM

My past-favorite player with a bit of insight! Thanks Pete!
I remember the days when I had magazine cutouts of her plastered all over my wall in University in the red dress and leggings....haha long were the days of pictures of women on my walls!

Posted by Christopher 03/25/2010 at 04:30 PM

That's right, Sherlock. I posted the link above.

I was also shocked that she's only 28!

I guess I can't really say I ever felt bad for her, as she's obviously ended up with a great life, but it does always drive me crazy when non-tennis fans make cracks about her barely being able to play tennis. She was 8th in the world, for goodness sake! And a very good doubles player.

Posted by canadarocks 03/25/2010 at 04:32 PM

Anna Kournikova said in a interview '' I'm like an expensive menu in a restaurant, you can look at me but you can't afford me ''

Posted by tina 03/25/2010 at 04:36 PM

I wish she would give some sage advice to Vaidisova! But I'm surprised she can truly remember "where she came from" since Nick B. brought her to Bradenton at, I believe, 12 years old. Still, she sounds pretty cool.

I also like the Seles/Serena mutual adoration society.

Posted by sapereaude 03/25/2010 at 04:42 PM

a few times I've read your articles I had a bone or two to pick.....and then I decided not to...(life is too short...) this one about Kournikova was a gem


Posted by tommy 03/25/2010 at 04:42 PM

Kournikova has a lot in common with Vaidisova. Nicole reached 2 major semis, I think was 1 or 2 points from beating Kuznetsova and playing Henin in a FO final.
Anna reached a Wimbledon semi at 16, then a Miami final. They both had injuries and romance, and they just could not play at 20 like they could at 16,17.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 03/25/2010 at 04:55 PM

She's really grown up. Sounds like a cool chick with a great head on her lovely shoulders.

Posted by ActionFlunky 03/25/2010 at 04:56 PM

Not enough pictures!

Posted by Sherlock 03/25/2010 at 04:58 PM

Lol, ActionFlunky. :)

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/25/2010 at 05:22 PM

Yawn, seriously.

Posted by ElectricGoat 03/25/2010 at 05:45 PM

If that's Dave Attell in the picture, I'm Anna Kournikova.

Posted by Jill 03/25/2010 at 06:02 PM


I'll triple that yawn and raise it a giant snooze

Posted by Ryan 03/25/2010 at 06:08 PM


You read the New York Post???

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 03/25/2010 at 06:09 PM

Great job Pete, I love this article. She retired before my time in tennis and reading all the great things about her, the giving back which is so much more important than ANY titles makes me have so much more admiration. I have to admit what I knew about her was largely based on the jokes told and what other players like Sharapova, Aggie and Davenport have said. This is certainly a different and more fairer view because you get to see the character of someone by how much they give to others. "I now am giving back." That says something more important then grandslam.

Posted by beth 03/25/2010 at 06:16 PM

I liked this article , Pete .
It never ceases to amaze me that people judge her so harshly . Why ? Because she was gifted genetically with a face and figure that many consider beautiful ? Does that make her incapable of human goodness or feeling ? Does being physically beautiful preclude her from intelligence . No - it most certainly does not .
Ridiculing her for her beauty is every bit as petty and foolish as mocking an obese person , or a handicapped one for the genetic hand they were dealt in life.
Judge the person based on how they treat you and what they stand for
Seems to me , Pete , that as Anna K has matured , she has become a truly caring , real and generous person. One who is willing to work to help others. And for that I admire her .
Thanks for writing about her - and standing up for her tennis as well
A one time ranking of number 8, along with 2 slam titles , is a great accomplishment .

Posted by jantasticFOUR 03/25/2010 at 06:32 PM

Don't forget that she was also ranked #1 in doubles, in addition to her career high of #8 in singles.

Posted by YAAKOV HAIMOVIC 03/25/2010 at 06:34 PM

STEFFI answered a marrige proposal (on court) with :"Are you rich?"
ANNA K. rebuffed a young man asking for her phone number at the players exit sw19 with:"you can't afford me".

Posted by kait 03/25/2010 at 06:44 PM

People are generally harsh towards someone like Anna because when you put yourself in the media spotlight with things like photoshoots and bullish comments you open yourself up to a world of criticism. My favourite player is Sharapova, so I am hardly going to criticise Anna for modelling, but I think tennis players who model have to understand that some people are not going to respect it when they are known more for modelling than tennis. Yes, a career high of 8 is a good achievment, but there are many more players who have done that and won't be remembered because they didn't take their clothes off for cameras. It's not jealousy that causes people to dislike Anna, it's more how she got famous and the fact that it is unfair to people who lack that long blonde hair.It's not how she looks, it is what she did with those looks and how men unfairly discriminate against those less fortunate looking.

Beth - obesity is not a disease. Just sayin'.

Posted by Samantha Elin, supporter of all things Scandinavian 03/25/2010 at 06:59 PM

I think both the comments by Stefi and Kournikova are LOL. Kait, let's face it, nobody is going to turn down millions no matter what they achieve or don't achieve on the court. Good on her taking advantage of every opportunity particularly when you consider where she came from. I've been to Russia many time, butn't sure I would like to have grown up there with some of the economic problems the country has faced. Also, another thing to admire,I remember an interviewer on ESPN repeating to her what Sharapova had said about her and instead of bashing Sharapova back, she was very nice and blamed it on Sharapova's youth. Kait, not sure I think of tennis model when I think of Sharapova, I think of a great player and three time GS champion.

Posted by Joe 03/25/2010 at 07:17 PM

Didn't she already got married once? to Sergei Federov? and then somehow engaged to Pavel Bure for awhile? I don't care too much about her other stuffs, she's a beautiful girl and why not take advantage of that. But she caused a stir in the NHL, as a hockey fan, that's her notoriety's from.

Posted by THE FINAL WORD 03/25/2010 at 07:22 PM

I have nothing of value to add to this discourse other than it's fortunate that Anna doesn't look like Bodo. Unfortunately I do and so my life is a never-ending misery.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 03/25/2010 at 07:54 PM

Joe - I remember hearing about the Fedorov thing too. She was super young (21-ish) at the time, IIRC.

Nice read. I think Anna started out as a diva but has definitely mellowed out with time (much like Hingis, I think). I've always been impressed by her charitable work, but my respect for her went up even more with the way she responded to the Gimelstob comments.

Posted by Jill 03/25/2010 at 08:14 PM

The Final Word,

Lol-that's funny!!!!!!!

Posted by VC 03/25/2010 at 08:40 PM

Nice article.

"When I wrote a Tennis magazine cover story on Kournikova in the spring of 2001, it was that dimension of Kournikova's personality and (untold) history that intrigued me and led me to go on an exhibition tour in South America to spend a little time with her."

Haha, yes. I watch international beauty pageants to support my country's candidate for purely patriotic purposes. ;-)

Still, nice article.

Posted by ActionFlunky 03/25/2010 at 08:56 PM

Just bounced back to see if more photos had been posted with this article. Alas, "Nyet!" (as Anna K would say with her saucy little native tongue). So *sigh* .... back to the other thread.

Note to Bodo: anytime you present an "article" on Kournikova, we're looking for PHOTO-journalism, not journalism. Thanks.

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 03/25/2010 at 08:56 PM

"As is so often true in cases like Kournikova's, it's a good idea to wait until someone grows up before we being making judgments about his or her character."

This should be common sense....shamefully admitting I am guilty.

Posted by Christopher 03/25/2010 at 09:40 PM

"Yes, a career high of 8 is a good achievement, but there are many more players who have done that and won't be remembered because they didn't take their clothes off for cameras."

It's not like she posed in Playboy or something (unlike some other players). Anna didn't show any more skin than Sharapova, Ivanovic, or any of the other players who have been in the SI swimsuit issue. (in fact, in terms of square inches, Serena has certainly showed far more :). The only real difference is that more people actually wanted to see Kournikova.

I think the controversy with Fedorov was that they started dating when she was more like 16 or 17.

Posted by Sherlock 03/25/2010 at 10:38 PM

What is with the yawns? Jeepers. I know the prices are high here, but a little respect wouldn't be a bad thing.

Posted by ActionFlunky 03/25/2010 at 10:58 PM

"What is with the yawns? Jeepers. I know the prices are high here, but a little respect wouldn't be a bad thing."

I took it as a feminine reaction. Kind of like how we guys get bored with whole drool-fest/teenybopper excitement over Rafa. But who knows. I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first (nor last) time.

Anyway, deal with it, ladies. ;)

Posted by Andrew Miller 03/25/2010 at 11:10 PM

Special! Thank you Mr. Bodo, excellent writing and deep thinking on Ms. Kournikova. Your article made me look at her record to see who she has beaten: she beat Clijsters once (1-4 vs. Clijsters), did not beat Henin but played her close (0-4), had a winning record vs. Capriati (3-1), beat Seles in Key Biscayne (1-5 vs. Seles), won a set off Serena (0-2 lifetime), played Venus close on many occasions but lost all matches (0-8), beat Steffi Graf on grass courts at Eastbourne (1-2 lifetime), and even has a Roddick-like win vs. Hingis in Germany (1-11 lifetime).

I never disliked Kournikova, but thought she under-achieved (likely because of the overwhelming pressures - I dont think any player today, even Sharapova, faces the scrutiny that Kournikova did). In light of what you wrote however, my respect for her game and accomplishments on the court have grown in leaps and bounds. Thank you!

Andrew Miller

Posted by Andrew 03/25/2010 at 11:30 PM

I enjoyed this very much. Two doubles majors is more than most of us achieve in a lifetime. Ms Kournikova sounds like a grounded individual, and I wish her luck.

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 03/26/2010 at 12:17 AM

Pete thanks for the Anna K article, nice read. I loved it when she played dubs with Hingis and remember the famous locker room hissy fits with one of them throwing flowers at each other. 2 gs dubs is not a bad effort.

I guess she is trying to lead a normal life as possible, she doesn't seem to have a problem adjusting to life off the tour as does Sampras.

I prefer AK over Shrieky any day at least she has better skin.

Posted by Cosi 03/26/2010 at 01:13 AM

I always liked Anna because she seemed so sharp, quick witted and intelligent. This was a nice article, she deserves more than to be dismissed as simply a sex symbol or a "failure" at tennis. nobody that wins two major titles in doubles is a failure at tennis and she can't help it that her back was wrecked. Bolletieri used to say she was one of the hardest working pupils he ever had, he even felt like she overworked, possibly leading to the serious injuries to her back. It's unfair the way she is seen in the media as a girl who simply wanted to trade on her good looks, she wanted tennis success badly, unfortunately, her back derailed her, it's happened to many other tennis players too.

Posted by Cosi 03/26/2010 at 01:14 AM

Angel of the Surf, do you seriously decide to like one person better than another person based on the quality of their skin? wow

Posted by Angel of the Surf (The Youz for the top 10) 03/26/2010 at 01:20 AM

cosi, don't be stupid. I don't like shrieky because of her father, her shrieking on court and plus I think she is up herself.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 03/26/2010 at 03:39 AM

Well, I'm a woman and I enjoyed the piece very much. :) Always like a slant-wise look at a player, past or present.

I suppose all the players are quite young really...we tend to see them as gods and forget how young they are and how young we probably were when we were 23 or 17 or whatever. It must be difficult growing up under such a spotlight. Wish we'd remember that when we jump all over someone for some ill-considered press conference remark. :)

As for the yawning & trolling & laughing at said trolling - just, ugh.

Posted by Corrie 03/26/2010 at 05:10 AM

A really interesting read. Anna was always fun to watch, except for her serving yips. She got to the semis at Wimbledon too, by the way.

As she said, she grew up in a tough environment and had the passion to succeed that is foreign to us pampered westerners. She's matured and done well under immense pressure and scrutiny - hence all the painful double faults. I admire her and I only wish she and Hingis could come back and play doubles together again. They made a great team and if they want to have more cat fights, that'd be fun too.

Posted by Blah 03/26/2010 at 07:19 AM

Just to correct those speaking about the Steffi statement at Wimbledon (I know it's off topic): The fan goes "Steffi, will you marry me?", and she answered, "How much money do you have?" It was one of the funniest and lighthearted moments in contemporary tennis history...everybody in the stands, including Steffi was laughing.

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/26/2010 at 07:49 AM

Andrew, thanks for the stats, very interesting and gives me a new perpective. Have to admit, if you asked me if I thought she was a good player I would have said no because the only thing I look at to judge players is their singles titles and Grandslam titles. Sadly, I think there are people who think the same, the Sharapova quote of not wanting to be compared because she "never won anything." I don't think this is based on jealousy, but that tennis is result oriented. The attitude that you're as good as your last big title or slam. But your post gave me something to think about, she played a lot of the players I consider to be great very close. You have to have game to do that and to beat Graf, like wow! I would have never thought that judging from some of the thing I have read and heard. I'm also starting to believe that we have to look at other criteria than GS titles and singles titles to determine if a player is good. Because if we only use these, then we leave out most players. And this is coming from someone who has said the "slam" are everything many times. As I get older I think a person should be judge by a higher standard then how many singles titles and grandslams they have. What you give back has to count for more. On a side note, why are there live matches at a premier event and TTC is showing us re-runs from last weeks tourney??

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 03/26/2010 at 08:02 AM

SamE: very pleased to read your 7:49.:)

Posted by Samantha Elin 03/26/2010 at 08:03 AM

Should read no live matches. Also why has ESPN totally abandoned its coverage of tennis except at the slam. I saw a cheerleading contest on ESPN the other day so why is such a silly event more important then a premier sport like tennis??

Posted by tina 03/26/2010 at 09:33 AM

Okay, I think part of the "yawns" is that we waited a long time on an old thread for Pete to give us a post about Key Biscayne, even if we are all only watching scoreboards. Instead we got a flashback to a player who not only never won Key Biscayne - she never won anything. I mean, Jesus, I didn't have any dolls, either, became a "celebutante" in Manhattan in my early 20s, and later became a patron of Sloan Kettering.

I'm here to read about the current tournament, especially since we cannot watch it. This isn't "red meat" - it's only cheesecake.

Posted by Nam1 03/26/2010 at 09:38 AM

"I think the controversy with Fedorov was that they started dating when she was more like
16 or 17."

well, not just that she was 16 but that he was 28. Kind of seemed wrong. Can you imagine Miley Cyrus got so much flak for dating a guy who was 21 when she was 16 so obviuosly everyone freaked at AK dating a guy twice her age!!

Posted by tina 03/26/2010 at 10:00 AM

And Federov was perhaps the same age as Anna's mother?

Posted by Ruth 03/26/2010 at 10:26 AM

Whenever Pete -- or anyone else -- dared to write anything complimentary about AK on this site, I was usually the only one or one of, maybe, two who were in agreement -- both about her professional career and her post-tennis life. Glad to see that things have changed. I saw some video last year about Anna's work in Haiti with the Population Services program that Pete mentioned, and I thought about that when the devastating eathquake occurred this year.

My one regret about AK (and I've mentioned it before) is that I think that she was left with that easy-to-pick-on "no-title" label unnecessarily mainly because her handlers allowed her to focus only on the BIG events during her best years, thus preventing her from garnering one or more titles at smaller events. By the time she started playing the smaller events, her serious bak problems were too far gone for her to win there.

Of course, any thinking person would realize that one has to look at overall performance (not just at number of titles) before damning or ridiculing a player's tennis skills and performance. Is a player who won one or even two Tier 3 titles automatically a better player than one who retires, after a good career, without a title? I think not.

Sadly, many people don't think before they speak!

Posted by Kombo 03/26/2010 at 10:57 AM

Thanks for stating it better than I could, Tina. I felt like a bit of a tool after posting my 'yawn', I guess it would have been better to write 'not this again' and explain why I think this horse is beyond beating. Of course, Pete's free to write about whatever he wants, and we're free to leave comments. I just don't find her all that compelling honestly. There are narratives playing themselves out in realtime on the tours and here we are regurgitating AK. One. More. Time. E.g. Jelena Jankovic stopped her slide last week, she looked to be on the way down, her countrywoman continues to slide (and fallacious AK comparisons start to mount). Nadal hasn't won a tournament in a year. Is Del Potro gonna be okay? Has Murray checked out mentally? So many options, but I guess AK trumps all those.

Posted by kym 03/26/2010 at 11:01 AM

So one Pete is in the defence of another with remark on "judgment on one's character".
The other Pete, aka P.P., does not have a character. When he was still relatively low
in ranking and GS titles, he was nurtured by a woman, his first time. She travelled
and took care of him. When he threw up in a tennis court, she ran to his aid. But
when he had more money, he dumped her! That is character? The imitation of P.P. by
A.A. was not an imitation! Tennis fans know that it was a humiliation! And it was
P.P.'s fault. He does not belong to the movie star class. He is one ugly American
tennis player! He had to open his mouth and breath when he played tennis, and he
deserved the elegance of B.W.? That is why A.A. said, in his book, he envied him!
So he chose the bad tipper imitation to tell P.P. that the latter does not have class. It's P.P.'s fault! He should have stayed with his first time! He humiliated her,
so A.A. just returned the act to him! What goes around comes around, you get that?

Posted by Nam1 03/26/2010 at 11:05 AM

wow, relevant?? OT?

Posted by tina 03/26/2010 at 11:26 AM

OT - but interesting. Anyhow, a real KB thread up now!

Posted by Tenniss 03/26/2010 at 01:37 PM

Nice post

Posted by ActionFlunky 03/26/2010 at 02:22 PM

I had some fun with this -- sorry, but even today Anna K's looks stop me dead in my tracks -- but the fact that she is someone with a decent perspective and a certain amount of level-headedness doesn't surprise me. As someone noted earlier, it's easy to forget what sort of pressure and criticism she faced back in the day. As an example there used to be an anchor named Kevin Frazier on ESPN's SportsCenter who refused to say her name until she had won a tournament and decided he would call her "the thing" until she did so and in fact called her "the thing" everytime there was a story or highlight involving her (i'm not making this up).

Anyway, turned out Mr. Frazier's career at ESPN lasted for a shorter time than Anna K's presence in the top 25. But here was the all too ironic but predictable kicker for a guy with the high moral standards of Mr. Kevin Frazier. After leaving ESPN he went to work for one of the Access Hollywood-like gossip shows. That's right. Mr. Sports Integrity, who couldn't bring himself to call AnnaK by name because she wasn't deserving enough of her fame, went to work for a show that shills stories on some Bachelor contestant's past as a nude model or heretofore unknown stay in the Betty Ford clinic. And as far as I know, Mr. Frazier still works in that industry today. Again, I'm not making this up. Only in Hollywood.

Posted by Jill 03/26/2010 at 02:28 PM


You captured the yawn necessity nicely


Posted by Kwaku 03/26/2010 at 03:58 PM

What's wrong with Nole?

Posted by Kwaku 03/26/2010 at 04:01 PM

(For some reason talking about Nole seems to belong to Kournikova's blog, but not to Key Biscayne -- Day Three where I am not allowed to post... any hidden meaning to this?)

Posted by izidane 03/26/2010 at 04:13 PM

Good gawd, what's happening to Nole? *wail*
I can't post on the KB thread either!

Posted by Tennissy 03/26/2010 at 04:15 PM

Kwaku, same msg is appearing when i tried. Folks are on "Blog update" thread.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 03/26/2010 at 04:17 PM

Great piece Pete. It's very cool to read about a person whom was pretty polarizing in tennis and arguably changed how the women in tennis were viewed (not just athletically but as a marketing tool)....perhaps moreso than Chrissie E....(honestly I'm not sure how much extraneous marketing she did). It was very raw.

I think you can tell that her tennis had a very Bolleteri style to it. I think on of the great things about Agassi's book is debunking the quality of Nick B.'s cap as more of a boot camp than pure 'university'. Perhaps it's changed....but prob not.

AK's unbridled smashing of the ball was actually even the start of the women's power trend. Sadly her serve couldn't match that GS power and she just didn't seem to have the legs to compete on a singles level with the top shelf. Perhaps if she had more focused tennis management she may have elevated herself further....but winning a couple of Grand Slam doubles titles is certainly nothing to been disrespected. Esp. during a time when a couple of dominating women's doubles teams were in place.

Good stuff....

Posted by Cosi 03/26/2010 at 04:35 PM

I'm not stupid "Angel" of the Surf... this was your written statement:

"I prefer AK over Shrieky any day at least she has better skin"

you clearly infer that having "better skin" is a factor for you in preferring somebody... if you don't mean something, don't write it, no reason to insult somebody with an ad hom attack for asking you about your own statement .

Posted by carnap 03/26/2010 at 04:56 PM

Is this working?

Posted by Anya 03/26/2010 at 05:26 PM

She's a beautiful woman.

Posted by Mrs Tennis 03/26/2010 at 06:23 PM

Why is there no live streaming of Miami yet??????????????

Posted by Dani 03/26/2010 at 07:28 PM

My friends, I desperately need a stream for the Nadal-Dent match! Does anyone know one? Thanks in advance!

Posted by Aube,spring alone is a blessing! 03/26/2010 at 07:30 PM

For goodness sake,could anyone explain to me why the tennis channel is called "THE TENNIS CHANNEL"? since it's never showing anything current,talk about "bombe a retardement!!!" also shame on other cable networks that can't show a tournament that's going on in their country,pfffffffffffff!

Posted by Or 03/27/2010 at 01:52 AM

OMG, did anyone seen the new lindt ad? So cute!

Funny, I never associate these chocolate bunnies, which my grandmother (who had since passed away) used to get us as children, to lindt. I probably couldn't read the name on the wrapping in English at the time.

Posted by Or 03/27/2010 at 01:56 AM

OMG, did anyone seen the new lindt ad? So cute!

Funny, I never associate these chocolate bunnies, which my grandmother (who had since passed away) used to get us as children, to lindt. I probably couldn't read the name on the wrapping in English at the time.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 08:54 AM

Has TW died?

Posted by just a note 03/27/2010 at 09:36 AM

carnap - I think so! Sad commentary on the business end of this site. Of course, it can be excused since we haven't had any tennis on TV. This afternoon should be the first sighting on FSN/MSG+ 1pm EST/TW time.

Half-hearted hooray.

Posted by Master Ace 03/27/2010 at 10:20 AM

Just A Note and Carnap,
I hope Pete will have another thread where we can post since Deuce Club and KB - Day 3 is not allowing any post.

P.S. - Action has started for today.

Posted by Diane 03/27/2010 at 10:20 AM

I keep getting warning, post doesn't belong on this blog at Duece Club, anyone else having problems with the site?

Posted by Diane 03/27/2010 at 10:21 AM

Thanks Master Ace, I see that you are having the same problem.

Posted by just a note 03/27/2010 at 10:26 AM

Or- thank you for consistently posting fun pictures and videos of Roger. I love them, especially the newest Lindt bunny video. Just so much funny! :))

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/27/2010 at 10:44 AM

so now two threads are out of commission - so we're here for the duration?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/27/2010 at 10:46 AM

really weird stuff from typebad.

'morning everyone.

tennistv begins in 15minutes. they have two feeds. stadium and grandstand so i'm hoping they will cover rafa's doubles. it will be interesting to see if they do.

Posted by Master Ace 03/27/2010 at 10:46 AM

Guess so until a new one come up. Pete did say he will be around this weekend as he is preparing for his trip to Miami.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/27/2010 at 10:47 AM

carnap, it's clearly on life-support at this point.

just a few of us hearty souls keeping it alive

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 03/27/2010 at 10:53 AM

MA: yep, he'll probably post something for us. wonder what's going on?

Posted by greenhopper 03/27/2010 at 10:58 AM

Andrea Petkovic is amazing.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:13 AM

I'm assuming the wake is being held here. Anyone for coffee, tea, brandy, CPR?

Posted by Tfactor 03/27/2010 at 11:18 AM

It's really difficult to find the right thread. Is this it?
Verdasco and Sela are about to start.
Hello everyone!!

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:20 AM

Tfactor: I think if we sit still long enough, this will be it.

Posted by Tfactor 03/27/2010 at 11:21 AM

What's going on with Tipsarevic these days?
With my luck now there's nobody here anymore, hehe

Anyway, Verdasco holds to start the match

Posted by greenhopper 03/27/2010 at 11:24 AM

Tfactor, these days? He kinda only shows up for big matches against top fellows.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:24 AM

I think Tipsy's moment in the spotlight was when he played the five-setter against Fed at AO 2008. He used to be what you might consider a spoiler, but now, he's just a journeyman.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:24 AM

BTW,Tipsy lost that five-setter.

Posted by Tfactor 03/27/2010 at 11:26 AM

Oh good to see you, Carnap and Greenhopper.
Well I think Tipsy is doing worse than usual. I'm not even talking about winning but eating a bagel from Petz (no offense) is a bit much.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:26 AM

Someone really needs to tell Jenny Craig that Marie Osmond isn't a great spokesperson for them. IMHO, she looks like a tart.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:28 AM

Petz can be dangerous. I picked him to win this one, but I doubt he'll beat Soderling (if/when Soderling beats Luczak.

Posted by greenhopper 03/27/2010 at 11:29 AM

Wickmayer and Petra Martic seems like a tight match. 15 minutes in and only in the 3rd game. It's absolutely ridiculous that women's tv coverage starts tomorrow. I mean the tournie starts earlier for them as well.

Posted by Tfactor 03/27/2010 at 11:29 AM

I take it you guys have TV coverage? I hope mine will start later today.
In the mean time, in case anyone is looking for a stream for Verdasco vs Sela:

Posted by greenhopper 03/27/2010 at 11:29 AM

hi carnap, tfactor and anyone else who might be lurking.
I like Petzschner, but he's very inconsistent himself.

Posted by greenhopper 03/27/2010 at 11:31 AM

Our FSN is showing, get this -- a cooking show. In a sports channel. I'm watching Verdasco on TennisTV.

Posted by carnap 03/27/2010 at 11:33 AM

Alas, I have no TV coverage since I'm in New York with Tennis Channel.

I left a trail of breadcrumbs at the Blogging Update site directing them here. Let's see who's hungry.

GH: Agree re Petz...not consistent at all. However, he can still upset the apple-cart once in a while.

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