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. Kournikova 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 the4th round.
In 1997, she 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. Anna says her game wasn't modelled after any one player, although lists Graf and Seles as players she has learnt from, watching television. Now at 18 years of age, she is developing her power game and exhibiting some fearful ground strokes coupled with superb court mentality. Anna is indeed superstar material, with glamorous looks (she says if not for tennis, her passion would be acting) and an aggressive all-court game to match. In fact, she has had an agent since the age of 10.She is currently on the verge of the world Top 10, and others foresee her and Hingis (along with the Williams sisters) battling it out for world number 1 in the not-too-distant future. Regardless, Anna Kournikova will play a great role in the future of women's tennis.