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Anna talks about the experience she's bringing to an all-new season of The Biggest Loser.
An internationally recognized tennis star and a global voice for children's health, sportsmanship and spirit, Anna Kournikova is expanding her role in the fitness world to help fight obesity and motivate Americans to get in shape as the newest trainer on NBC's acclaimed series "The Biggest Loser." As a former World #1 doubles player and #8 singles player, as well as a certified trainer, Kournikova has always made a healthy lifestyle an integral part of her life, and she's honored to have the opportunity to inspire others as part of the upcoming 12th season.
Born in Moscow, Russia, Kournikova's passion for tennis and being active began at the age of five when she picked up her first tennis racquet. She started hitting at Sokolniki Park and became a member of the prestigious Spartak Tennis Club, coached by Larissa Preobraschenskaja. In 1990, at the tender age of eight, Kournikova began appearing in junior tournaments and, by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across the world. Kournikova signed a management deal at age 10 and went to Bradenton, Florida to train at Nick Bollettieri's celebrated tennis academy.
Following her arrival in the United States, Kournikova exploded onto the tennis scene, making her the internationally recognized tennis star she is today. At the age of 13, she won the European Championships and the Italian Open Junior tournament, and she also went on to beat out the competition to win the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl. By the end of the year, Kournikova secured the #1 singles ranking and was crowned the ITF World Champion. She became the youngest player ever to win a Fed Cup match at the age 14.
After her success in the juniors, Kournikova turned pro in 1995. In 1996, she won two ITF singles tournaments, the first in Midland, Michigan and the second in Rockford, Illinois. Kournikova then battled through four qualifying rounds at the U.S. Open to eventually reach the fourth round of the main draw in her first-ever Grand Slam Tournament where she lost to Steffi Graf. At the end of 1996, Kournikova was the recipient of the prestigious Sanex WTA Tour Most Impressive Newcomer Award.
In 1997, Kournikova reached the semifinals of Wimbledon and became the second woman in the Open Era, next to Chris Evert, to reach the Wimbledon Semis in her career debut. A year later, Kournikova broke into the world's top 20 at #16. At the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, Kournikova defeated four consecutive top 10 players in a four-day period during a single tournament, an unprecedented achievement that no other female tennis player has accomplished to date. Three months later, she beat Steffi Graf on grass, a feat only two other players accomplished in the 1990s. That same week, Kournikova broke into the top 10 for the first time in her career. At the end of 1998, Kournikova finished the year at #13 in the world in singles and #10 in doubles. Her career continued to bloom during the next two years, with a year-end ranking of #12 in singles and #1 in doubles in 1999 and #8 in singles and #4 in doubles in 2000.
Kournikova has defeated many of the world's top players who have competed on the women's tour, including Lindsay Davenport, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez and Martina Hingis. These impressive wins, along with Kournikova's consistent top 10 rankings, two Grand Slam Doubles titles at the 1999 and 2002 Australian Open and three Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Finals, have more than proven her ability to excel in both singles and doubles on the WTA Tour.
Prior to joining "The Biggest Loser" team, Kournikova continued her commitment to tennis by participating in World Team Tennis matches that celebrate the sport and bring together legends, current players, up-and-comers and fans. In addition, she participated in tennis exhibitions throughout the world to support various charitable organizations.
Kournikova's passion for health and fitness is also strongly reflected in her work for children through various global organizations. She has worked with the Boys & Girls Club of America focusing time and attention to programs dedicated to promoting an active lifestyle for youth, and she also helped launch the Cartoon Network's Move It Movement campaign to get kids active during the summer months. Kournikova also worked with PSI, a U.S.-based NGO focusing on children's health around the world. On her trip to Russia, Kournikova visited three different cities to help bring awareness to protect Russian youth from life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS and to encourage comprehensive support services and healthy lifestyle alternatives. She also traveled with PSI to Haiti where she worked with their ground partners to promote safe water drinking and malaria prevention. Kournikova is an active participant in the USO, having gone to various military bases around the world to meet the troops and speak to children about staying healthy and active.