Anna Kournikova has delighted her many male admirers by returning to the courts of Wimbledon to play a doubles match with former world number 1 Martina Hingis. Hingis and Kournikova teamed up to play British pair Sam Smith and Anne Hobbs.
Team Anna/Martina quickly found themselves up 3-0 against their older opponents with an excited patron yelling out “Come on you grannies” which was received with much laughter and clapping from the crowd. The comment also seemed to fire up Smith and Hobbs with Kournikova’s infamous serve allowing the British team some break point chances.
Anna also required a medical time out at 5-3 in the second set after she got a bleeding blister on her hand, a sure sign that the Russian beauty hasn’t played in a while. She said after the match her last singles match was 6 years ago against Martina and she has barely picked up a racquet since.
“For me personally it’s an amazing opportunity to be back at Wimbledon, my favourite grass courts. I haven’t been here since 2002…Playing with Martina, I think we just picked it up today where we left off eight years ago…I had so much fun today. Kind of jittery a little bit. You don’t know how everything is going to go. But I had an amazing time.”
Rumours from a few months ago stated that Hingis was considering a comeback after her 2 year ban for cocaine use was completed but Hingis has denied that, saying the mental commitment is too great. “I did it. I had my comeback. I was very happy with it. I lived through all the emotions. I missed it when I was away for three years. That’s why I did the comeback.
Now it’s different. I’m going to be 30 years old. Like I said before, it’s a commitment you have to do. You travel 35, 40 weeks a year. I think I’ve played enough tennis in my life. Tennis gave me everything I have today. I’m grateful every moment.”
Kournikova ruled out a comeback, saying even exhibition matches are hard now. “For me it would be impossible really physically to be on the tour. It even bothers me a little bit playing like today. I mean, it wasn’t strenuous match. It was quite fun and giggly. I’m sure I’m going to feel it tomorrow and I’ll be sore. Even to prepare for the specific tournament, the last two months, I’ve had to have therapy, like real therapy, every day for an hour, hour and a half.
This is just for kind of the fun matches. I would have to live in the trainer’s room for three hours every day. I have five different things wrong with my back from two herniated discs.”
Interestingly both former top players commented on the state of the women’s circuit today.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: I think that right now there’s still those amazing names: the Williams girls, Henin, Clijsters. Thank God they came back. I just think, to me personally from the outside, it looks like there’s not that many household names besides those really four girls, plus Sharapova.
MARTINA HINGIS: It’s quickly changing.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: A true tennis fan, he will know who Jankovic is, Wozniacki, people that are between 5 and 10.
MARTINA HINGIS: Even Ivanovic.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Before, I think it was many more household names. Hingis, Williams, Clijsters, Henin, Pierce, Sanchez, Graf, Capriati. We played in an era where I think there were many generations. There was the older generation, the medium and the younger. I think I played the late ’90s. It was such a huge mix of generations and people.
But right now, anybody who is outside of top 5 or 10, a normal sportsfans, I don’t think they would recognize the names of the girls, even though they’re amazing and good.
MARTINA HINGIS: We just had different style. Everyone had its own style. That made it unique. Pretty much now it looks very much the same, like the hard hitting, yeah.
I think they just don’t teach it anymore.
ANNA KOURNIKOVA: Now it’s about the power.
MARTINA HINGIS: We just played a lot more tennis, so… Different way, different way of coaching I believe, you know.