Russian-born Anna Kournikova left Moscow at the age of 9 to come to Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida, USA - the same academy which has also produced Monica Seles
and Andre Agassi
. She was the world's topped-ranked junior at the end of 1995, shortly after Martina Hingis joined the professional ranks. Anna herself turned professional in 1996, and competed in her first grand slam at the US Open that year. She performed exceptionally well, defeating seeded players before finally falling to eventual champion Steffi Graf
in the 4th round.
In 1997, Anna affirmed her position amongst the world's top players, highlighted by a semi-final appearance at her first Wimbledon as a professional. In 1998 she further surged up the rankings, with the highlight being an appearance in the final of the prestigious Lipton Championships, defeating four top 10 players consecutively along the way. Soon after, she scored her first victory over world number 1 Hingis, and just prior to Wimbledon she broke into the world Top 10 for the first time in her career. A thumb injury before Wimbledon (suffered in a match where she defeated Graf
) ruled her out of tournaments for the next few months, and she has since had a tough time regaining her momentum. 1999 began with a controversial Australian Open, her play marred by poor form with her service. However, she did manage to make the 4th round in singles (her best result)as well as winning the doubles championships with Hingis as her partner.