Anna Kournikova's Stunning Transformation Through The Years

Anna Kournikova's life has undergone quite the transformation since she entered the world in June 1981. According to Sportsmates, Kournikova was born to 20-year-old Sergei Kournikov, a former professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow, and Alla Kournikov, an 18-year-old former 400-meter runner, in what was then the Soviet Union. 


There's no doubt that the years that followed saw plenty of ups and downs, as Kournikova went from childhood tennis prodigy to one of the biggest stars in the world, then moved on to shun the spotlight for a quiet life with her family by her side. Her life so far has included a name change, multi-million dollar endorsement deals, and multiple babies.

But, no matter what she's been through, Kournikova doesn't regret "a thing," she told Sports Illustrated in 2008. "Except to be a little stronger physically," she added. "Come on, regrets? I grew up a little girl in the Soviet Union playing at a small sports club. Tennis gave me my life." And what a life! We're taking a look back at how this superstar has transformed into the inspiring woman we know today, including all the big ups and downs that made her who she is.


Anna Kournikova's early life was anything but glamorous

Growing up in the Soviet Union, Anna Kournikova's childhood wasn't exactly lavish. "[We did] all kinds of sports because, you know, back then in the Soviet Union we didn't have that much entertainment, especially for kids," she recalled during a 2009 appearance "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." "There was no video games, there wasn't any cell phones. We had five channels on TV," she recalled. The way most young people in the country kept themselves entertained was by playing sports or studying, she added. 


For Kournikova, sports was her avenue of choice after she was gifted her first two tennis rackets for Christmas in 1986. She later revealed to Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" in 1997 that her parents actually had to sell their TV in order to buy the rackets for her. She later joked to Fallon of how she got started in tennis, "I didn't really choose it, because I started playing tennis when I was five." She added, "I think my parents kind of tried to get rid of me because I was so hyper ... I was, like, everywhere."

Her love of tennis started to grow after her fifth birthday

Anna Kournikova began playing tennis at the age of 5, twice a week as part of a children's program. "It was just for fun," she explained of her early days playing tennis. "My parents didn't know I was going to play professionally, they just wanted me to do something because I had lots of energy," she recalled. But Kournikova realized at the age of 7 that she might have what it takes to be a pro. "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," she said. 


It wasn't exactly easy, and rising through the ranks took plenty of determination. Our tenniscore icon explained on "The Tonight Show" that she would sometimes have to clear the snow from the tennis court before she could play. All that work was clearly worth it, though. At the age of 7, Kournikova joined the Spartak Tennis Club in Moscow so she could continue to practice.

Her tennis skills brought her to the U.S. at age 10

Three years later, at just 10 years old, Anna Kournikova made one of the biggest moves (literally) of her life. She and her family picked up and moved to the U.S. so she could continue to pursue her tennis career. At the time, according to Kournikova's official bio, she signed a management deal that took her to Nick Bolletierri's tennis academy in Florida. To better assimilate in the states, the family changed the spelling of their last name from Kournikov to Kournikova.


Kournikova later admitted during an appearance on "The Graham Norton Show" in 2010 that she knew had to work hard because of the sacrifice her whole family had made for her. "I felt like, because of me, my whole family moved to a different continent and so I was supporting everybody, basically," she said. "I still had so much fun on the court but looking back at it now, I mean, I would never do that to my kid." Kournikova then began playing in junior tournaments in the U.S. as a young teenager — and things moved pretty quickly from there.

Anna Kournikova started to attract major attention as a teenager

Not long after Anna Kournikova made the move to the U.S., she was already competing in major tournaments. She made her Grand Slam debut at the 1996 U.S. Open, aged just 15, and took on Stefie Graff (a game she ultimately lost). But that was the only big court a teenage Kournikova played on that year, since she represented the Russian Federation in the 1996 Summer Olympics.


Kournikova was just 16 years old when she then headed to London to compete at Wimbledon for the first time. She played big names in the U.K. during the 1998 event, including a teenage Serena Williams, and made it to the semi-finals. Although she didn't win, she used the loss to push herself to do better next time. "This gives me some confidence that I could play better. She didn't beat me. I lost. It's good she didn't really beat me because I made all the mistakes, right?," she told ESPN.

Around the same time, Kournikova appeared to see the fruits of her labor pay off. According to SouthCoast Today, she was living the high life in a Miami Beach penthouse.

She saw more success with doubles tennis than solo matches

Following her defeat at Wimbledon, Anna Kournikova turned her attention to doubles tennis. She teamed up with fellow tennis pro Martina Hingis in 1999, and they saw plenty of success together in the late 90s and early 2000s. The twosome won the 1999 Australian Open together (which they went on to win again in 2002) and were ranked number one for doubles that year. In 2000, the two won doubles again at the Chase Championships.


However, the partnership wasn't exactly without its bumps in the road. The two notoriously fell out in November 2000 during an exhibition match in Chile. According to The Guardian, the drama came after the two disagreed on a call made by the umpire on the court. Former tennis player Jaime Fillol, who organized the event, admitted to the outlet of their drama, "It was so bad I thought they were going to beat each other up." Thankfully though, they didn't and managed to put their drama behind them to eventually reunite (more to come on that later).

Love came knocking for Anna Kournikova

Also in the late 1990s, Anna Kournikova's personal life was starting to garner serious media interest. And one of the biggest aspects of her life whispered about was her relationships. At the time, it was reported that she was dating family friend and Russian hockey player Sergei Fedorov.


Fedorov's teammate Nicklas Lidstrom opened up about their romance and late-night phone calls years later in 2005. "You know, waking up to hearing a voice in the room, you can't see anyone, but finally I see the cord going underneath the blanket and it's Sergei speaking Russian," he told the Stoney & Bill Show (via Detroit Free Press). Federov's coach, Scotty Bowman also spoke out about their romance, telling Yahoo! Sports in 2015 that the two were so serious about one another Fedorov would miss hockey practice to see her. "They were pretty serious," he said.

In 2001, the Sun claimed that Kournikova, who was then 20 years old, had tied the knot with Federov. However, her dad denied the marriage rumors at the time to ABC News. Two years later, Federov himself claimed he had been married to Kournikova, but they'd split. "We were married, albeit brief, and we are now divorced," he told The Hockey News (via ESPN). Pat Brisson, Fedorov's agent, also claimed to the outlet the two had tied the knot. Kournikova's team, however, denied it. "No, it's not true. She's not married," Lindsey Evans, an Octagon management company spokesperson, told CBC Sports.


The spotlight only intensified for this star after that

Around the same time as the Sergei Fedorov rumors were swirling, Anna Kournikova's name was on magazine covers around the world (including the likes of Forbes' March 2000 issue, GQ's August 2000 issue, and the June 2000 issue of Sports Illustrated). But it wasn't just glamorous magazines. The endorsement deals were also flowing in. One of her biggest came in 2000 when she signed on the dotted line with Berlei for a sports bra deal, which The Washington Post claimed was worth $6 million.


Speaking about her various deals to Sports Illustrated in 2008, she said she had no regrets about lending her name to various products at the height of her fame. "I took the money. It's simple. If you don't want the attention, don't take the money." 

She also spoke about her intense rise to fame and popularity on "The Graham Norton Show," admitting all the attention bestowed on her may have made her fellow female tennis stars a little jealous. The star didn't name names, but admitted she wasn't exactly best friends with all her peers during that time. "I think a lot of other players were jealous of her, perhaps deservingly so," tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg admitted to CNN. "She got a lot more attention, and a lot more endorsement money than a lot of players who were better than her."


A foray into acting followed ... along with the love of her life

As Anna Kournikova's star continued to rise and her relationship with Sergei Fedorov fizzled, she was ready to try her hand at something new. And she found the love of her life in the process.

Kournikova got the acting bug in 2001 and was cast as the love interest in the music video for Enrique Iglesias' "Escape." It was thanks to the fateful role that the two sparked up a romance that would go on to last decades. And Iglesias was smitten with the sportsperson from the start. "She's beautiful, talented, a great tennis player ... it doesn't take a good actor to try to kiss Anna and make it believable," he said on MTV's "Making of the Video."


Iglesias also opened up about their fateful meeting while speaking to People in 2023. "[The video changed my life] in ways that I didn't even think about," he said. "When we met — although she came from the sports world — we kind of got each other. We just started connecting little by little and got stronger and stronger and stronger," he added. The "Hero" singer noted that both he and Kournikova grew up in the spotlight and helped each other navigate that together, which helped them build a strong foundation for their relationship.

While her personal life was blooming, her professional life started to struggle

Though Anna Kournikova was happy behind closed doors with her new love, in front of them, she was struggling. The athlete suffered a stress fracture in her foot in 2001 that seriously affected her tennis game. Her doctor, Dr. Hubert Hoerterer, told Sport1 (via ESPN) that Kournikova had suffered a similar injury before that hadn't properly healed, which only made things worse. The fracture forced her to withdraw from multiple big tournaments and took its toll on the star. "I felt so helpless," she said of her time away. After having surgery, she returned and made it to the Australian Open grand slam quarterfinals. 


Still, her foot wasn't back to 100% and she had to pull out of several other tournaments that year. She did see some success in doubles again, though, winning the 2001 Adidas International doubles title in Australia with Barbara Schett. She continued to play a few more professional matches over the next couple of years, winning with Martina Hingis at the 2002 Australian Open for their second grand slam doubles title.

Kournikova also started spending more time with Enrique Iglesias, and the two made their red carpet debut at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2002. Want an idea of just how famous Kournikova was around this time? She was the 10th most Googled woman in the world in 2002 and the second most Googled athlete, behind only David Beckham.


That led her to some tough decisions in her early 20s

In addition to Anna Kournikova's foot injury, the pro sportsperson was also suffering issues with her back at 22 years old. She was forced to miss several big tennis events in 2003, and began to realize that she would have to make some difficult decisions about her career to protect her health. "I can't cope with the rigorous schedule of major tournaments. At the end of the day, my health is the most important thing I have and I don't want to risk losing that," she told The Standard in 2003, stating she planned to retire.


Kournikova later opened up to People in 2011 about that tough time in her life. "I never planned or thought that was going to be it. My back really forced me to stop," she said. The star recalled just how much trouble she was having, saying, "I couldn't tie my shoes, literally. I would be in excruciating pain. I had been doing six to eight hours [of training] every day since I was 5 years old." 

And it was because of her injury that she had to find a new direction. "I just started going through a growing up period. It was very interesting to me to stop playing and to figure out, 'Who am I without tennis?' It was very difficult and scary as hell," she said. Instead of tennis, Kournikova found much of her purpose in charity work.


American citizenship and new career ventures came in the early 2010s

Over the next few years, Anna Kournikova's interests seemed to lay mainly outside of tennis. She made a few TV appearances, including popping up in a 2004 episode of "The Apprentice USA," though she seemed more focused on her charity work than making public appearances.


A big moment came in her personal life in 2010 though, when she officially became a U.S. citizen after living in the U.S. for more than a decade. "I've always considered myself half-Russian and half-American," she told Maxim (via "But when I started working with the USO [United Services Organizations] and the troops overseas, it just seemed the logical next step." The star had been using her time away from tennis to help others, including doing tours with the USO. 

Kournikova also publicly returned to the sport she loved in 2010 when she reunited with Martina Hingis at Wimbledon for the Ladies' Invitational. "Playing with Martina, we just picked it up today where we left off eight years ago," Kournikova told The Guardian. "I had so much fun, an amazing time." But that wasn't the only big move in her career. In 2010, she also landed a new gig as a trainer on "The Biggest Loser." "I am not doing this just to be on TV. At all," she told People of the role in 2011. "I am able to help and influence people's health and well-being. That is an amazing feeling."


2017 brought the blessing of babies

Anna Kournikova exited "The Biggest Loser" in November 2011, after just one season. In a statement issued to People, Kournikova shared, "I enjoyed my time on 'The Biggest Loser' ranch ... I will always be a part of 'The Biggest Loser' family and my commitment to bettering lives through health and fitness will continue." As for why it was time for her to exit, her rep denied rumors she was fired to the outlet. And, for a long time after that, she stayed mainly under the radar. 


However, she was firmly back in the celebrity news cycle in 2017 when she and Enrique Iglesias welcomed twins after a private pregnancy. The couple never officially announced they were expecting, though TMZ confirmed that December they'd welcomed a boy named Nicholas and a girl named Lucy. The then 36-year-old new mom confirmed the report in January 2018, sharing an adorable photo of herself kissing one of her newborns. The transformation from one of the most famous tennis players in the world to almost total anonymity? Check!

Iglesias opened up about how parenthood was treating himself and Kournikova, telling fans during a gig in Budapest, Hungary, in March 2018, "I became a father 12 weeks ago and I can absolutely tell you two things: I love my babies! I love them very much." A fan video posted to Instagram showed he also shared some praise for his partner too, adding, "Actually three things: I love my girl." Adorable!


Enrique Iglesias's mom opened up in 2018 about why Anna Kournikova shunned the spotlight

As the world began to notice that we hadn't seen much of Anna Kournikova recently, Enrique Iglesias's mother opened up about why her son's long-term love was no longer on the cover of magazines and walking the red carpet. Kournikova had been flying under the radar for a few years, and Isabel Preysler told Hola! in January 2018 that it was all the former tennis pro's choice. And not for any sinister reasons, either.


"It has been a perfectly normal pregnancy and she has not had to rest at any time. Anna has not needed to hide, she leads a very normal and very homely life. She has limited herself to living her usual day-to-day life with Enrique, the family and friends," Preysler explained of Kournikova's new, much more private, life. 

She also explained that just because Kournikova had chosen a more hush-hush life for herself didn't mean she wasn't still close with her family. Preysler confirmed she knew about Kournikova's pregnancy all along and seemingly suggested so did others who were close with the couple — they just decided not to tell the world. "What happens is that they are very [protective] of their privacy and decided to keep it a secret," she explained. That's quite a feat for two people who at one time had the whole world's eyes on them.


Motherhood became Anna Kournikova's main priority ... which led to baby number three!

Anna Kournikova was all about the quiet life at home with her family. The athlete was thriving in motherhood, reveling in being a mom after deciding to leave her celebrity life behind, and only really kept fans up to date with her life via a few Instagram uploads.


Enrique Iglesias opened up about how Kournikova had adapted to motherhood while speaking to The Sun in October 2018. "It's incredible to watch her be such a great mother. It's incredible to watch a mum do what she does, when a mother's instinct kicks in," he gushed. The singer also shared a somewhat TMI confession about how close he and his longtime love still were. "It's probably more sex now than ever. The sex has not diminished," he said.

And clearly the spark was very much still alive between these two. So much so that they soon welcomed baby number three. The two decided to keep this pregnancy just as private as their first, though the world found out after Hola! published candid snaps of the two on a boat together in January 2020 showing Kournikova sporting a baby bump. That same month, they welcomed a daughter. Kournikova confirmed the news on Instagram in February 2020, posting a photo of herself and her newborn daughter just minutes after her birth alongside the caption, "My Sunshine 01.30.2020." Iglesias then confirmed to People the following month their daughter was named Masha.


Anna Kournikova doesn't even seem to use Instagram these days

Completing her transition from world-famous celebrity to out-of-the-spotlight mom, Anna Kournikova seemingly made the decision to give up sharing her personal life with her fans on Instagram in 2022. Proving she's well and truly left her days in the spotlight behind her, the tennis superstar (who hasn't confirmed a marriage, but goes by the name Anna Kournikova Iglesias on the social media site) hasn't shared a photo or video on her Instagram grid since May 2022. But her last few posts showed just how happy she is being a mom and partner. Her most recent post showed her with two of her children on her lap while their daughter Lucy kisses her dad Enrique Iglesias as he held on to Masha.


And it seems she may have also asked her partner to keep uploads involving her to a minimum. Iglesias doesn't appear to have shared a grid upload of her on his account since that very same month. Then, he shared an adorable video in honor of Mother's Day, and showed Kournikova dancing in their yard with one of their children.

Metamorphosis to a life out of the spotlight? Double check! But, hey, with Celebrity Net Worth reporting she's worth a whopping $60 million, who could blame her for wanting to rest on her laurels a little? What a beautiful transformation from determined child sports hopeful to a successful, talented, and fulfilled mom of three!