Volume 94, Issue 7
Anna K. needs some serious inspection
She has been called the Sultress of Swing, the Lolita of the tennis world.
Her athletic frame, her bouncing locks of blonde hair and her golden skin have made her one of the hottest sex symbols in generations. She is Anna Kournikova. But is she good for woman's tennis?
The initial problem with Kournikova is how to define her. Athlete? Star? Heroine? Villain? Opportunist? Media-darling? She is a combination of all these things, yet who and what she is, has become meaningless. Kournikova is a manufactured and pre-packaged goddess designed to satiate the media and society's appetite for youth, sex, money and fame.
Obviously, tennis has been the catalyst for Anna's rising fortunes. Since arriving on the world tennis stage she has been the centre of everyone's attention. Her revealing on-court attire has attracted legions of fans to women's tennis and pushed television ratings through the roof. However, she has never won a tournament. She probably never will.
But is she a positive or negative force for woman's tennis? Is it right that she reaps millions in endorsements and consistently shines in the spotlight when homelier, but more talented players such as Lindsay Davenport are only slightly acknowledged? Many would say it's not fair. It's also a poorly kept secret that she is despised by many women on the tennis circuit. She is criticized and crucified almost as much as she is worshipped.
I don't think people should find any fault with Anna. She may be better at playing sex symbol then playing tennis, but she can play a hell of a lot better than most of the world. She may never win a tournament, but her appearance does not effect her tennis ranking. She is one of the top twenty tennis players in the world good enough to play at a level equal to that of her opponents.
Furthermore, it was the sport, not her body which paved the way to her becoming a star. Think of the millions of girls with aspirations to play tennis all over the globe. Of all these girls, some of whom are probably just as or more alluring, Kournikova made it to the next level. She had the talent to separate herself from the pack and play at a world-class level. She may not be a world-class champion, but she is a world-class player.
I'm not going to say it's right that a female athlete is recognized for sex and not for her skill, but is Anna Kournikova to blame? We live in a society that markets everything with blatant sexuality. It may not be right, but it's a problem deeply rooted within society. Kournikova is just a footnote of a much larger problem. To the critics: Leave the girl alone, she's not the one to blame, she is only taking advantage of an opportunity. She has superb athletic skill, but she also knows what sells.
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