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26-Mar-2017 09:13

In addition to her tennis and television work, Kournikova serves as a Global Ambassador for Population Services International's "Five & Alive" program, which addresses health crises facing children under the age of five and their families.

a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion, eventually earned a Ph D and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow.

She became the youngest player to win the 18-and-under division of the Junior Orange Bowl tennis tournament.

By the end of the year, Kournikova was crowned the ITF Junior World Champion U-18 and Junior European Champion U-18.

It was only when I started playing well at seven that I went to a professional academy.

I would go to school, and then my parents would take me to the club, and I'd spend the rest of the day there just having fun with the kids." In 1989, at the age of eight, Kournikova began appearing in junior tournaments, and by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across the world.

At 15, she made her Grand Slam debut, when she reached the fourth round of the 1996 US Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player Steffi Graf, the eventual champion. At the French Open, Kournikova made it to the third round before losing to world No. She also reached the third round in doubles with Likhovtseva.At the US Open, she lost in the second round to the eleventh seed Irina Spîrlea.Partnering with Likhovtseva, she reached the third round of the women's doubles event.Her strong year qualified her for the year-end 1998 WTA Tour Championships, but she lost to Monica Seles in the first round. At the start of the 1999 season, Kournikova advanced to the fourth round in singles before losing to Mary Pierce.

However, with Seles, she won her first WTA doubles title, in Tokyo, beating Mary Joe Fernández and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the final. However, Kournikova won her first doubles Grand Slam title, partnering Martina Hingis.After this tournament, Kournikova's ranking jumped from No. At the Wimbledon Championships, Kournikova became only the second woman in the open era to reach the semifinals in her Wimbledon debut, the first being Chris Evert in 1972.There she lost to eventual champion Martina Hingis.In 1995, she turned pro, and won two ITF titles, in Midland, Michigan and Rockford, Illinois.