Kournikova Lets her Tennis Do the Talking

Published June 27th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Anna Kournikova did her best to silence the critics who claim the Russian is just a beauty not a battler, winning a tough first-round Wimbledon encounter against French 10th seed Sandrine Testud 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. 

But with her face plastered on billboards all over London advertising a sports bra with the provocative slogan "only the ball should bounce," the questions about the unseeded 19-year-old's multi-million dollar off-court activities show no sign of abating. 

"I don't really pay attention to what's going on around," said Kournikova unconvincingly. 

"Everybody needs a story. You know I'm just working. That's what I've been doing since I was playing tennis's. 

But 'working-girl' Anna is not slow to make as much money as she can from her undeniably attractive body and her endorsement potential is apparently limitless. 

Last year she earned 10 million dollars but less than 10 per cent of that was in prize money, prompting envious comments from more successful but less glamorous rivals. 

But the bitching has not helped any of the others earn more money and, short of human nature and capitalism both collapsing overnight, it's hard to see how the situation will change. 

Wimbledon finalist Nathalie Tauziat's recent autobiography has been in the forefront of the attack on looks triumphing over talent. 

She described Kournikova as a "blonde godsend for the WTA" - and the French star was not being complimentary. 

But showing an aggression she rarely shows on court, Kournikova defended herself by saying: "What I do is my business. 

I don't think it must somehow take away something from me being a tennis player. 

Because I'm a tennis player, I'm doing that. I think I can help a lot of people by doing the sports bra. Those billboards, for example. I think it is very important for young women to get the message and to really treat their bodies good, just be healthy," - and keep that bank balance fighting fit too - (AFP) 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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