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Sergei and Alla Kournikova knew that their lives would change when they brought daughter Anna into the world on June 7, 1981. They just didn't know the entire tennis world would soon be turned upside down as well.

Both Sergei, a natural athlete who wrestled professionally and coached tennis part-time, and Alla encouraged their daughter to take part in physical activity at an early age. When she turned five, Anna received a Christmas gift that would change her life.


"I found my first racquets under the Christmas tree," Anna says, "but I found out later that my parents sold one of their TVs to get me those racquets."

From that moment, Anna has rarely put down her racquet. She started hitting at Moscow's Sokolniki Park and soon was a member of the prestigious Spartak Tennis Club, coached by the husband of Russian pro Olga Morozova.

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At eight, Anna began appearing in junior clinics and quickly caught the eye of local tennis scouts. Still, she says, her childhood was "regular, average" as she spent a lot of time shopping, going to amusement parks and spending time with friends.

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