|Little Miss Numero Uno
FHM indulges in a Mexican getaway with our newly crowned Sexiest Women in the world
Two of the English languages best words when used together are "weekend" and "getaway". Their mere mention suggests an escape from the everyday, weather it be sipping James hardy on a Gold Coast canal with the jet set, or enjoying the caravan park amenities block the way the penniless might. It wasn't until earlier this year, however, that FHM experienced the mother of all weekend getaways. The setting was Hacienda San Juan, a hunting lodge in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Our accommodations featured a swimming pool, a spa and a TV with 100 channels and the company that included Anna Kournikova, FHM's sexiest Women in the World as freshly crowned by more than one million votes cast by readers around the world.
Arriving after losing in the semis finals of the Mexican Open, Anna shifts from tennis pro to cover star. She emerges from a dressing room and begins to introduce herself to FHM, then pauses upon noticing that the tape holding a half- buttoned shirt to her chest is starting to give way. A spin and some assistance from her mum fixes the situation, allowing her to finish the greeting.
The 21-year-old Russian needs no introduction to dedicated FHM readers, her exclusive shoot from last September still singeing your retinas. Anna was sidelined at the time with a stress fracture in her left foot, which caused her to miss the final eight months of the 2001 season. Taking advantage of the down time, she appeared in Enrique Iglesias's Escape video and continued her work for an array of companies from which she receives an estimated $US12 million a year. The downside to missing so much time of last year is that Anna started 2002 ranked number 74 in the world. She has her sights set on a return to the level of play that resulted in a top 10 ranking on the WTA tour money lists in 1999 and 2000. And while she's still chasing that elusive first singles title, she appeared to take a step in the right direction at the Adidas International earlier this season, pushing Serena Williams to three sets in Sydney. "That match showed me that I can play well even without playing a lot of tournaments", says Anna, who later in the month would win her second grand slam doubles title while playing along side Martina Hingis at the Australian Open. "I was playing well that match – unfortunately I didn't close it out. But it gave me the confidence that I can play well again."
Anna is on the comeback trail, having reached the semis three times in the year's first nine tournaments. And if her response to FHM's suggestion of a hairstyle change is any indication, fans will be treated to many more years of the flowing, navel blonde hair.
"I like my hair the way it is," she replied upon asking whether she'd ever consider cutting her hair in order to avoid the occasional ponytail-in–the-face while stroking a forehand. "Have you ever considered shaving your head bald?" which we hadn't.
How does it feel to be voted FHM's Sexiest Women in the World?
Anna: "It's extremely flattering, especially because it is voted by the FHM readers, I'm very excited about it."
Do you consider yourself to be sexy?
Anna: "It all depends on the way I'm feeling. When I'm happy inside, that's when I feel most sexy."
You are without the doubt the world's most popular tennis player. Do you think that other players get more fired up when they play you?
Anna: "I can't really control that. Anybody that goes on the court against anybody, they're going on the court to win. So I don't think that really makes a huge difference. I can't control it so I don't think about it."
You have been the number ?one-ranked junior player in the world, the world's number-one ?ranked doubles player, and you've won many important doubles titles. How important is it that you win a major singles title before your career is over?
Anna: "I think it's important for anybody. I'm still young and my career is obviously not over yet. It's just beginning. So, some day..."
In the Adidas International match against Serena Williams earlier this years, the Sydney crowd were behind you even more so than usual. Have fans been offering you even more support this season because you're coming back from injury?
Anna: "I've always felt that the fans were on my side no matter what. That was certainly the case in that match and I was very excited about it. It really helps me to feel that I have all the support of the fans."
Are you aware of the crowd noise during a match or are you so focused that you completely tune everything out?
Anna: "I do feel the excitement but it's not like it distracts me. It's really exciting when you've playing a match and the atmosphere is almost boiling and all the fans are getting into it. You get the adrenaline going and it really does make a match even more exciting."
Have you done a photo shoot in surroundings like this?
Anna: "No, it's amazing. I had a lot of fun with the settings and location. They're all very different, and the whole shoot is very different to the one we did last year. It makes it all seem very new and exciting. We wanted to fit in with the ranch, which is why we decided to do some cowgirl stuff."
FHM is very fond of the cowgirl get-up...
Anna: "Oh really?"
Yup. Did you dress up in things like cowgirls outfits when you were younger?
Anna: "Not really. I didn't have much time for that. But I think it's kind of a trend now so it was fun to do it on the shoot."
How do you explain having such good fashion taste after having spent nearly the first half of your life in the fashion wasteland of communist Russia?
Anna: "Well, it may be fashion-less, but the people there do have taste. Especially my parents, so I guess that's where it comes from."
You always seem very comfortable around the court, whether it's practising or in a match, often talking to both women's and men's players. Do you consider yourself to be an extrovert?
Anna: "I do have a circle of friends on the tour and we hang out. We travel all the time and see each other almost every day, so those are the people I socialise with."
Is there a certain tournament that you look forward to more than any other?
Anna: "There are many great tournaments and they're all very different from each other. The best thing is that they're different countries and parts of different cultures, so it's difficult to choose a particular place. But it's always nice to come back to a tournament where we have good memories."
You prefer the bigger venues in the larger cities such as the US opening New York, or are you more comfortable when the spotlight isn't shinning quite so brightly?
Anna: "Sometimes it's nice to have a quiet tournament in a smaller city where there's not as much going on because it allows you to focus more on your play. But once you get to the big tournament, that's where the excitement really is. There are always big crowds at the courts and it makes for a different atmosphere. In New York you can just feel the excitement in the air. It would be difficult to play in a major tournament every week, but once in a while it's great."
Is it difficult to focus on whipping Martina Hingis when later in the same tournament you might be playing alongside her in a doubles match?
Anna: "You have to get used to it, and all the players pretty much have. You spend time together with your doubles partner at tournaments, so that if you have to play against each other in a singles match, you try to block it out, go on the court and compete. Once you walk off the court it's back to a normal again. I'm pretty much used to it."
Are the rivalries between the women players as intense as they often seem to be on television?
Anna: "The media tend to spice it up a bit. The rivalries take place on the tennis court, but outside of it everybody does their own thing."
In your spare time do you check out some of the fan websites and get a laugh out of the names people come up with ? names such as "The Annamaniacs Page" and "Anna at the Temple of Babes"?
Anna: "They certainly do have a good imagination! But it's fun, just as long as they're having fun."
Ever log on out of curiosity of what people are posting about you?
Anna: "I go to my website at kournikova.com ? I like to hang out there sometimes and see what people are saying. I guess you could say I'm spying on them."
Find out more at Anna's offical website: