Whatever Happened To Anna Kournikova?

Professional tennis player Anna Kournikova picked up a racquet at the age of 5 and shot to fame when she was just a young teen. As she advanced in her career, the two-time Grand Slam Australian Open doubles champ began to blossom both on and off the court, becoming as well known for her beauty as for her backhand. Her athleticism, talent, and model-esque looks made the Moscow-born beauty one the most popular women to watch in the late '90s and early '00s. The attention led to numerous endorsements, as well as modeling and television gigs. Then, just when it seemed like she was literally at the top of her game. Kournikova all but vanished from the public eye. So, where did she go? 

After giving up the sport that made her a star more than 20 years ago, Kournikova has remained busy, finding fulfillment in philanthropy and family over her forehand shot. She and her partner, Spanish singing sensation Enrique Iglesias, have been together for more than two decades and share three young children. Although she keeps her private life just that, Kournikova will occasionally post photos to her social media accounts that offer the public a small glimpse into her world. Hers is a quiet life lived primarily out of the limelight, and the transformation seems to suit the blonde bombshell just fine. Here's what you may not know about Anna Kournikova's post-tennis life. 

Anna Kournikova retired from tennis in 2003 due to injuries

When Anna Kournikova's father sold the family television set to buy his 5-year-old daughter a tennis racquet, little did he know that the investment would pay off in spades. From that moment on, the blonde phenom was on a seemingly unstoppable path to greatness. At the age of 8, she was signed with the prestigious IMG sports agency before relocating to the United States to train under the watchful eye of coveted coach Nick Bollettieri. Kournikova went through a stunning transformation, advancing through the ranks and smashing one worthy opponent after another. By the age of 18, she held the number eight spot in the world for women's singles players. The endorsements and dollars poured in, and even though she had yet to win a major singles tournament, it seemed the only way Kournikova could go was up. Then fate intervened.

Years of intense training caused Kournikova to suffer from chronic back and foot pain, and, by the age of 21, she had no choice but to step away from the sport that had made her a household name. "My back really forced me to stop," she told People. "It got so bad; I couldn't tie my shoes, literally." 

With that, Kournikova's next chapter began. "It was very interesting to me to stop playing and to figure out, 'Who am I without tennis?' It was very difficult and scary as hell," she said.

In 2004, Anna Kournikova started serving up aid to nonprofits

From serving up aces to serving up aid, Anna Kournikova stepped up her philanthropy game after leaving the game of professional tennis. The star once known as a tennis diva certainly had more time on her hands once she retired from the sport, and she decided to use that time for a good cause, get in the trenches, and get her hands dirty. She participated in the Nautica South Beach triathlon to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, traveled to impoverished areas of Haiti with Population Services International, and entertained troops overseas through United Service Organizations. She told People in 2011, "I loved getting involved in charity work and I felt like that's what my name is good for and that's what I wanted to channel it into," adding that it helped her find happiness off the court. 

Of all the causes she continues to support, it's the charities that impact children that are near and dear to the heart of this mother of three. As an ambassador for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, she has helped the organization open a youth facility in Tijuana, Mexico, and has devoted countless hours to traveling across the country speaking to children about the importance of physical activity, a topic on which she is well-versed. "For me it's all about working with the kids," she told Social Miami. "I guess that I'm a kid at heart."

Beginning in 2004, she began playing for Elton John's AIDS foundation

Although she no longer plays professionally, Anna Kournikova still courts her fans by playing in exhibition and charity matches, most notably the World Team Tennis Smash Hits. These charity tennis matches that benefit the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), are the result of a partnership between long-time friends and tennis lovers Sir Elton John and the legendary Billie Jean King. Tennis greats like Andre Agassi, Stefanie Graf, Andy Roddick, and, of course, Kournikova have all donated their time and talent to the event that has raised millions of dollars for EJAF and local AIDS charities since its inception in 1993. Participating in this star-studded tournament is not the only work Kournikova has done to help AIDS research. She returned to her native Russia with Population Services International to meet with youth most at-risk for HIV/AIDS. As she wrote in a feature for Oprah.com, "Our goal here is to reach young people before they begin using drugs, to educate them, to give them the tools they need to make healthy choices."

What's more Kournikova is all about hosting youth tennis clinics on her many charity trips, and she regularly encourages kids to get into sports. "It teaches you teamwork, it teaches you leadership, discipline, how to set goals, how to achieve goals," she said in an interview with VOA. "And all those things you can use in life." 

In 2010, Anna Kournikova became a U.S. citizen

Since moving to the United States to play tennis as a child, Anna Kournikova has immersed herself in the country and the culture. So it comes as no surprise that she made her love affair with America official in 2010 by becoming a U.S. citizen. And while it might have been tennis that brought her here, it was the love of the country that made her stay. Posing on the cover of Maxim in a star-studded, barely-there bikini and holding an American flag, Kournikova looked positively patriotic as she explained to the magazine that becoming a citizen just felt right. "You know, I've always considered myself half Russian and half American," she said. "It never seemed to really matter if I had a passport or not. But when I started working with the USO and the troops overseas, it just seemed the logical next step."

In an article she wrote for USO.org, Kournikova recalls how she first became involved with the organization to preach the religion of fitness to the children and families of service members. However, the athlete says she learned even more important lessons from the people she met during her trips. "On each trip I have taken with the USO, I have been so inspired by how positive everybody is despite the reality of their jobs during these uncertain times," she wrote.  "I can truly say I am proud to be an American."

In 2011, she joined The Biggest Loser

In 2011, Anna Kournikova traded in her tennis whites to join Season 12 of the NBC hit, "The Biggest Loser" as a contestant trainer. Kournikova, who holds a fitness certification from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), stepped into the role previously held for ten years by Jillian Michaels. Those are some pretty big sneakers to fill, but if there's one thing Kournikova knows, it's fitness. In a statement provided to UPI, the tennis pro turned trainer expressed her enthusiasm for her new role. "I am honored to join a program that embraces the values of a healthy lifestyle and is committed to fighting obesity," she said. "I look forward to the upcoming season and seeing the results we can achieve together." Her excitement was matched by the executive vice president of alternative programming and specials for NBC and Universal Media Studios, Paul Telegdy, who called Kournikova a "fierce competitor and an accomplished athlete."  "We are confident that she will be a powerful motivator to contestants to get fit and healthy," he added. 

Whether she's tearing it up on the tennis court or working with one of the many charities she supports, promoting lifestyle and fitness has always been at the forefront of Kournikova's mission. When she signed onto "The Biggest Loser," she was excited that the series would help her share her passion with a larger audience. She told People, "I am able to help and influence people's health and well-being. That is an amazing feeling."

After just one season, she moved on from The Biggest Loser

While she may have seemed like a natural choice to help contestants on "The Biggest Loser," it turns out that Anna Kournikova just wasn't the right fit for the role of fitness trainer. After only one season, she threw in her sweat towel and parted ways with the NBC hit reality show. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, she said, "I enjoyed my time on the Biggest Loser ranch." She went on to add, "I will always be a part of 'The Biggest Loser' family and my commitment to bettering lives through health and fitness will continue." So what happened?

Camp Kournikova told People, "Anna was 100 percent not fired from the show." However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, some members of the show's staff found her difficult, with one source telling the outlet that she was "a nightmare." Then there were the contestants, some of whom didn't feel she was supportive or nurturing enough. Former contestant Patrick House told People that the problem may have been her lack of experience working with obese people, something he says requires a very specific skill set. "I think you have to adapt to that, and I think that's what she struggled with," he said. 

Audience reviews were mixed from the start. Some viewers even took to social media to praise her performance; others felt she wasn't exactly a great fit for the gig.

In 2017, Anna Kournikova and Enrique Iglesias welcomed twins

After Anna Kournikova retired from tennis, she was ready to start a family. In an interview with Women's Health in 2011 (via People), she opened up about her desire to be a mom. "I absolutely want to have children, whether I have my own or adopt," she said. A few years later, she became a mother for the first time. 

Kournikova didn't announce her pregnancy to the world until after she gave birth. In December 2017, TMZ broke the news that Kournikova and singer Enrique Iglesias were the proud parents of fraternal twins Lucy and Nicholas. TMZ also pointed out that she went to great lengths to lay low during her pregnancy; the last public photo they could dig up of the tennis star was more than a year old. Even a deep dive into the former reality show trainer's social media posts proved pointless, offering mostly selfies of Kournikova smiling from the chest up. 

While it might seem unreal that the couple was able to guard their news so carefully, this is one pretty quiet pair. Ever since they heated things up on the set of the music video for Iglesias' 2001 song "Escape," Kournikova and Iglesias have kept the truth of their relationship and family life somewhat under the radar. But, from the tiny glimpses Kournikova does allow the public to view, it looks like motherhood suits her beautifully. 

Anna Kournikova was body-shamed after she had her twins

A year and three months after she gave birth to her twins, Anna Kournikova posed in a swimsuit for an Instagram post. In the Boomerang-style clip, the former tennis pro stands on top of an outdoor table in a bikini and high heels, clearly enjoying the Miami sun. While most of the comments on her post were supportive and kind, there were a large number of haters who shamed the superstar, using words like "skinny," "boyish," and "unhealthy" to describe her appearance. She did not address the hurtful comments left on the post. 

While some people might think that being called "skinny" isn't body shaming, the bottom line is that commenting on another person's body — especially in a judgmental or negative way — is not okay. Unfortunately, Kournikova is no stranger to knowing what it feels like to have her looks criticized by the public. "I know what it's like to be judged, dissected, picked apart for all of my life," she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. "It was so painful. I was just a kid at the time. I was being judged over here for being too pretty, or over there for not looking good enough. And God forbid I gained a pound. I heard about it."

Anna Kournikova welcomed baby number three with Enrique Iglesias

In 2020, Anna Kournikova and Enrique Iglesias welcomed a third child to their family. Baby Mary Iglesias was born in January 2020, and, like the arrival of her older twin siblings, her impending birth was kept hush-hush. However, once she made her debut, it seemed the proud papa was ready to share some sweet details. He told People that he was nervous at first about how the twins, as well as the family dogs, would react to having a new baby in the house. To his relief, the 2-year-old twins were thrilled to have a baby sister. 

Although they are still fiercely private and protective of their brood, in the months following Mary's birth, both Kournikova and Iglesias shared some adorable moments of their youngest child. Kournikova posted a photo on Instagram of Mary at 7 months wearing what closely resembles a white tennis outfit. "Wimbledon, here I come," she wrote. Another heart-melting Mary moment featured a video Iglesias shared where he is dancing with the almost 3-month-old to "We Are Young" by Fun. As the kids have grown older, the proud parents have continued to open up and share milestone moments and candid family photos of their adorable tots. Sure, Kournikova and her family have a lavish life, but as far as kids of celebrities go, Kournikova's three children seem to lead a relatively normal life away from the public eye. Whether they've inherited Iglesias' musical abilities or Kournikova's athletic abilities remains to be seen.  

Anna Kournikova is living happily ever after

Today, Anna Kournikova and her partner Enrique Iglesias are still happily together. Although Kournikova has added the last name Iglesias to her Instagram profile and sports a large diamond ring on her hand, neither she nor Iglesias have ever confirmed reports of a marriage. On the contrary, both have been very vocal over the years on the topic, saying they don't need to get married to prove they love one another. In 2011, Kournikova elaborated on the topic to Women's Health (via People). "[Marriage] isn't important to me," she said. "I'm in a happy relationship — that's all that matters." Iglesias echoed her sentiments the following year, telling Parade, "I've never really thought marriage would make a difference. Maybe it's because I come from divorced parents, but I don't think you love someone more because of a piece of paper."

It is hard to say whether they have tied the knot or not, but what is clear is that Kournikova is in a loving, committed, long-term relationship with the father of her children, and the family seems to be thriving. As to what the future holds for the former athlete, she hasn't announced any plans to return to tennis or television. For now, it seems she is happy to be a star who chose family over fame.