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Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova

Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova

In 1994, Anna Kournikova received a wild card into ITF tournament in Moscow qualifications, but lost to the third seed Sabine Appelmans. She debuted in professional tennis at age 14 in the Fed Cup for Russia, the youngest player ever to participate and win. In 1995, she turned pro, and won two ITF titles, in Midland, Michigan and Rockford, Illinois. The same year Kournikova reached her first WTA Tour doubles final at the Kremlin Cup. Partnering with 1995 Wimbledon girls' champion in both singles and doubles Aleksandra Olsza, they lost to Meredith McGrath and Larisa Neiland.
At age 15, she made her grand slam debut, when she reached the fourth round of the 1996 U.S. Open, only to be stopped by then-top ranked player, Steffi Graf, eventual champion. After this tournament, her ranking jumped from No. 144 to debut in Top 100 at No. 69. Kournikova was a member of the Russian delegation to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1996, she was named WTA Newcomer of the Year, and she was ranked No. 57 in the end of the season.
Kournikova entered the 1997 Australian Open as World No. 67, where she lost in the first round to World No. 12 Amanda Coetzer. At the Italian Open, Kournikova lost to Amanda Coetzer in the second round. However, she reached the semifinals in the doubles partnering with Elena Likhovtseva, before losing to the sixth seeds Mary Joe Fernández and Patricia Tarabini.
At the 1997 French Open, Kournikova made it to the third round before losing to World No. 1 Martina Hingis. She also reached the third round in doubles with Likhovtseva. At the 1997 Wimbledon Championships, Kournikova became only the second woman in the open era to reach the semifinals in her Wimbledon debut, the first being Chris Evert in 1972. There she lost to eventual champion Martina Hingis.

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