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Kournikova received her first tennis racquet as a New Year gift in 1986 at age five.
Describing her early regimen, she said, "I played two times a week from age six. And it was just for fun; 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 also reached her first Grand Slam doubles semifinals, losing with Savchenko-Neiland to Lindsay Davenport and Natasha Zvereva.
During her quarterfinals match at the grass-court Eastbourne Open versus Steffi Graf, Kournikova injured her thumb, which would eventually force her to withdraw from the 1998 Wimbledon Championships.
Her strong year qualified her for the year-end 1998 WTA Tour Championships, but she lost to Monica Seles in the first round. At the start of the 1999 season, Kournikova advanced to the fourth round in singles before losing to Mary Pierce.
However, with Seles, she won her first WTA doubles title, in Tokyo, beating Mary Joe Fernández and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the final. However, Kournikova won her first doubles Grand Slam title, partnering Martina Hingis.
They referred to themselves as the "Spice Girls of Tennis".
At 15, she made her Grand Slam debut, when she reached the fourth round of the 1996 US Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player Steffi Graf, the eventual champion. At the French Open, Kournikova made it to the third round before losing to world No. She also reached the third round in doubles with Likhovtseva.At the peak of her fame, fans looking for images of Kournikova made her name one of the most common search strings on Google Search.Despite never winning a singles title, she reached No. She achieved greater success playing doubles, where she was at times the world No. With Martina Hingis as her partner, she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 19, and the WTA Championships in 19.In addition to her tennis and television work, Kournikova serves as a Global Ambassador for Population Services International's "Five & Alive" program, which addresses health crises facing children under the age of five and their families.a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion, eventually earned a Ph D and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow.
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Kournikova played her last WTA Tour event of 1997 at Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Filderstadt, losing to Amanda Coetzer in the second round of singles, and in the first round of doubles to Lindsay Davenport and Jana Novotná partnering with Likhovtseva. In 1998, Kournikova broke into the WTA's top 20 rankings for the first time, when she was ranked No. At the Australian Open, Kournikova lost in the third round to world No. She also partnered with Larisa Savchenko-Neiland in women's doubles, and they lost to eventual champions Hingis and Mirjana Lučić in the second round.