Anna Kournikova became a household name when she was still in her young teens for her amazing skills on the tennis court. The athlete from Russia became the eighth greatest player in 2000, even though she had never won a singles title. When she began playing doubles, primarily with Martina Hingis as her partner, there were times where Anna ranked first in the world.
Despite retiring from the game in her early 20s, Anna has still found herself in the headlines, mainly for her high-profile relationship with singer Enrique Iglesias. The couple, who are notoriously private, began dating in the early 2000s and have been inseparable since. The pair welcomed a set of twins in December of 2017, despite fans not even knowing Anna was pregnant. Continue reading to see photos of the former tennis champ before she became a household name.
20 She’s The 8th Best Tennis Player In The World
Although we bet Anna is better known as ‘mom’ in her household, to the rest of the world, the celebrity is best known as one of the most talented tennis players to the rest of the world. According to Biography.com, Anna reached No. 8 in the world in 2000, even though she’s never won a singles title. We wouldn’t be surprised if her kiddos are talented with a racquet, too.
19 Her Parents Were Both Athletes
It looks like the apple didn’t fall far from the tree in the Kournikova household, as Anna’s parents were both athletes in their prime. Her father, Sergei Kournikova, was previously a professional wrestler. He later went on to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow, where he was also a professor. Her mother, Alla, used to compete in the 400-meter run. Nowadays, Anna’s younger brother Allan is a professional golfer.
18 But Her Family Wasn’t Wealthy Growing Up
Even though her parents were both talented athletes, it doesn’t sound like Anna grew up in the lap of luxury (not like her own children will). "Anna took to me the place where she was brought up in Russia and if you see the house she lived in, you can open up your arms and touch it wall to wall,” Enrique once explained, E! News reports.
17 She Started Training At 5 Years Old
There are tons of photos floating around featuring a young Anna playing tennis. The athlete has revealed that she received her first tennis racquet when she was only 5-years old and started intensively training the following year. "I played two times a week from age six. It was a children's program,” Anna has explained, Sportsmates reports. “My parents didn't know I was going to play professionally, they just wanted me to do something because I had lots of energy.
16 And She Was Competing By Age 8
Just a few years after she began training, Anna started showing great potential in tennis. She was only 8-years old when her parents began signing her up for professional junior tournaments. By the early 1990s, scouts from all over the world were coming to see the child prodigy play. According to Biooography.com, Anna earned a management deal when she was only 10-years old that led her to move to Florida to train at Nick Bollettieri’s esteemed tennis school.
15 She Was A Teenage Tennis Prodigy
It was clear that Anna would be one of the world’s greatest tennis players when she was still only a young teenager. When she was 14-years old, Anna won the European Championships as well as the Open Junior Tournament of Italy. In 1995, she was the youngest person to ever win the Junior Orange Bowl tennis tournament. Her career only went up from there.
14 But She Stopped Playing At Age 21
Some fans wonder why Anna has stopped playing tennis professionally given how talented she was. Unfortunately, the athlete had to make the difficult decision when she was only 21-years old due to increasing back and spinal problems. Anna even had a herniated disk. Continuing to play would’ve risked her overall health.
13 Candace Cameron Was Almost Her Sister-In-Law
In the late ‘90s, Anna was romantically linked to hockey player Pavel Bure. Fans of Full House will know that actress Candace Cameron is married to Valeri Bure- aka. Pavel’s older brother. Although it’s unclear how serious Anna and Pavel were, it seems like there was a chance that the tennis star almost became a sister-in-law to the conservative actress.
12 She’s Been With Enrique For Almost Two Decades
Anna and her long-time partner Enrique Iglesias have always been notoriously private about their relationship. So much so, we bet many fans don’t realize just how long they’ve been together. The pair first sparked romance rumors in late 2001 after Anna appeared in Enrique’s music video for “Escape.” Since then, the two have been going strong.
11 They Probably Won’t Get Married
Many fans have questioned whether Anna and Enrique have tied the knot in secret over the years, though both stars have yet to deny or confirm the longstanding rumors. However, in 2016, Enrique said he didn’t feel the need to legally get married. “I don’t believe you need a piece of paper to show you love someone,” he told E News, making it clear these two don’t feel a rush to walk down the aisle.
10 But They Also Haven’t Ruled It Out
Even though Anna and Enrique seem perfectly content with how things are going, both celebrities have said they haven’t said ‘no’ to marriage. "I have not ruled it out, but if you're happy, I don't think it will really make a difference,” Enrique said in 2014. “She's the coolest girl in the world."
9 No One Knew She Was Pregnant
To say the arrival of Anna and Enrique’s twins was a surprise would be an understatement. No one even realized the tennis star was pregnant (she only shared a photo of her bump after her twins were born). They announced their arrival of Nicholas and Lucy via social media in 2017, much to the delight of fans everywhere.
8 But It Was A Fairly Easy Pregnancy
Although Anna hasn’t revealed much about her time being pregnant, Enrique’s mother, Isabel Preysler, has said that things went smoothly for the tennis champion. "It was a perfectly normal pregnancy, she didn't have to do mandatory bed rest at any time," she told Hola! Magazine. "Anna hasn't had to hide. She has a very simple and homey life."
7 Enrique Always Knew She’d Be A Great Mom
Even a decade before they welcomed their twins, Enrique couldn’t help but gush over what a great mother he knew Anna would make. “The only thing I can say is that, in my opinion, Anna, whether we are together or not, would be an ideal mother,” he said in 2007, C. Sheet reports. “I think she’d be the perfect mother, and I say it regardless of whether I’d be with her or not.”
6 They Own A Private, Paparazzi-Proof Island
One of the reasons Enrique and Anna were able to hide her pregnancy for so long likely has to do with how paparazzi-proof their home is. Several years ago, the couple bought a $20 million mansion on a private Miami island, which offers the ultimate protection from nosy photographers and fans.
5 Their Home Features A 16-Foot Wall
In early 2017 (likely shortly before or after Anna became pregnant), the couple built a 16-foot wall around their Miami property, which TMZ says cost at least $500,000. That way, no photographers are able to snap pictures of their growing family. Additionally, the publication reported they also completely baby proofed their home at the time.
4 She Gets Annoyed By How Messy Enrique Is
Though Anna stays mum when it comes to most aspects of her relationship, she did once revealed her partner is messier than she is. "Yeah, and you find underwear, you know, everywhere and dirty socks and everything,” she said on The Graham Norton Show about what it’s like living with Enrique.
3 She Was A Coach On The Biggest Loser
Anna put her athleticism to good use in 2010 when she briefly appeared on The Biggest Loser. She originally participated in a one-time tennis workout challenge. The following year, it would announce she would join the cast as a regular celebrity trainer in season 12. However, after her brief stint, Anna chose not to return for season 13.
2 She’s Never Met Enrique’s Dad
Fans of Enrique Iglesias know he has a very strained relationship with his father Julio Iglesias, who’s also a singer. In 2014, Julio admitted he’d never met Anna, though he approved of their relationship. My kids are very independent, and it is difficult to see Enrique because he is all over the world," Julio said, E! News reports. "But Anna is very beautiful—they have good taste, my kids."
1 She Only Likes Fame For The Money
Some fans have wondered why Anna chose to live life in the spotlight given how much she detests being the fixture of media attention. She had a very poignant answer in 2010. "Hey, I took the money," Anna explained of her fame, E! News reports. "It's simple. If you don't want the attention, don't take the money."
Sources: People, C. Sheet, Biography.com, E News, Hola! Magazine.