Born on June 7, 1981–at a time when Russian women had a reputation for being among the least attractive in the world–Anna Kournikova helped shatter that image once and for all. This perky blonde took the world by storm in the late 90s for her unbelievable tennis prowess. Also, some sports fans noticed that Anna was kind of hot, and that ushered in a new era of athletes as sex symbols.
There was a time when female athletes were relegated to the ranks of Dorothy Hamill and Mary Lou Retton, with all the sex appeal of a cute little sister. Women’s tennis was really in need of a sex symbol. Now we have ladies like Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki (and more) grunting and groaning their way to victory, but Anna was a true trailblazer.
As for why she decided to shack up with the son of the guy who sang that one song with Willie Nelson, we’ll never know–but in your dreams, she’ll always be ours. Celebrate Ms. Kournikova’s 33rd with 33 supremely hot pics of the hottest tennis player of her generation–as we look back at Anna’s