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Popular Misconception Essay (ROUGH DRAFT) Pt. 1

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Hallo TAT!

This is the rough draft of my essay on Anna Kournikova which I am working on for my Argumentative Writing class. It's due Wednesday.

Any and all feedback would be very much appreciative. Please feel free to speak your minds--don't feel any need to blow sunshine up my ass.

It's a little on the long side, so I've unfortunately had to split it between two entries.

If you could, please post comments on the second entry, just to keep them all together.

Also if you would prefer, you can PM me any feedback.

My thanks in advance

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In 2001, one of my dreams as a tennis fan came true—I got to go the US Open. I excitedly blathered on about my upcoming trip to anyone who would listen; friends, teachers, and strangers all got to listen to me excitedly talk about it.
A friend of mine on my school’s tennis team asked if I could get him something on my trip.
“Sure,” I said. “What do you want? A t-shirt? A program? A keychain?”
“No…,” he said, hesitantly. “Can you get me the new Anna Kournikova calendar?”
I laughed, and agreed to.
When I went to buy the calendar at the US Open souvenir stand, I was met with laughter.
“You sure you want the Kournikova one?” she asked. “We have another calendar with Sampras, Agassi, and the Williams Sisters—players who actually win once in a while.”
I laughed and shook my head, and paid for the Kournikova calendar, immediately hiding it in my backpack lest somebody else see it and mock me for buying it.
Watching Letterman that night in my hotel room, I was excited to hear him introduce a segment on the US Open. He then went on to say that it was “Anna Kournikova’s Best Play of the Day.” The clip showed her getting a ball from the ball boy, and bouncing it twice. The clip then ended. The studio audience laughed, as did I.
Anna Kournikova had clearly become a punch line in not only the world of sports, but all of pop culture. The Russian blonde’s perceived lack of on-court success paired with her omnipresence as a pin-up girl on the immerging internet made many dismiss her as just a pretty face, who existed only to be downloaded and fawned over.
Kournikova was seemingly indifferent to this perception. In the face of criticism, she appeared in an Enrique Iglesias video, and became the spokesmodel for a line of sports bras with the slogan “Only the balls should bounce.”
Kournikova’s detractors cited her inability to ever win a tournament as proof of her failure as a tennis player. Former player Gene Scott cited her skimpy outfits as evidence that she was more of a “tennis model” than a “tennis player.” Kournikova was an easy target for ridicule, and was viewed as a joke, and even a blight to women’s sports. Critics, often feminists, claimed she was eye candy, not an athlete—just a bimbo with a racquet in her hands.
Anna Kournikova jokes were ubiquitous. Kournikova’s lack of tennis prowess was taken as granted by the media, fans of the sport, and even those who never paid any attention to the sport. People who wouldn’t be able to say who won Wimbledon would confidently laugh that it wasn’t Anna Kournikova. Others joked that her only contribution to the world of sports was that she dated several Russian NHL players.
Her reputation, however, was largely undeserved. Anna Kournikova was a world-class tennis player for several years, whose singles ranking peaked at #8 in the world, one of only seventy-seven women to be ranked as high as that in the thirty-two years of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Kournikova started playing tennis at an extremely high level at an extremely young age. When Anna was fourteen, she represented Russia in the Federation Cup, the annual women’s tennis tournament between teams representing various countries. She also represented Russia in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when she was only fifteen years old.
The cracks about Kournikova having never won a singles tournament were also largely erroneous. She won two professional tournaments at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) challenger level in 1996, when she was only fifteen years old. En route to winning the event in Midland, Texas, Kournikova won eight consecutive matches, dropping only one set in the process. She also won the challenger tournament in Rockford, Illinois. While these events are considered a class below the WTA circuit tournaments contested by players ranked within the top thirty, the achievement is still noteworthy.
Kournikova also had a great deal of success at the WTA level. Kournikova’s arrival as an upper echelon player was in July 1997, when, in her first time playing at Wimbledon, she reached the semifinals. Just a month after her sixteenth birthday, she won five matches to get to the semifinals, including wins over the #7 seed Anke Huber, and the #4 seed Iva Majoli, who had won the French Open a few weeks earlier. Kournikova was the first player to make the semifinals of Wimbledon in her first time at the tournament since Chris Evert in 1972. Kournikova lost in the semifinals to the #1 seed and eventual champion, Martina Hingis, who won three of the four grand slam events in 1997.
After the match, Kournikova was embraced by the tennis establishment. Many thought that she represented the future of women’s tennis, along with fellow sixteen-year-old Hingis. The two were thought likely to be atop the sport for the foreseeable future. Kournikova’s quickness and ability to generate difficult angles on her shots made pundits and fellow players alike take note.
Kournikova made the final of a WTA tournament for the first time in March 1998, at the Lipton Championships in Miami, widely considered the most important tournament on the tennis calendar aside from the four grand slam events. Kournikova’s run to the final was especially impressive due to the high caliber of opponents she defeated en route to making her way through the bracket. Seeded #24 at the tournament, defeated future Wimbledon semifinalist Mirjana Lucic, nine-time Grand Slam champion Monica Seles (#5), Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez (#9), three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport (#2), and four-time Grand Slam champion Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (#8), before falling to the #11 seed in the final, another up-and-coming player by the name of Venus Williams. It was only the eighth time in the history of the WTA that a player had defeated four players ranked inside the top ten at one tournament. As a result, Kournikova’s ranking rose into the top twenty for the first time in her career, as she improved nine places from #25 to #16.
Kournikova’s impressive form continued through the spring and into the summer. She reached the quarterfinals or better at four of her next five tournaments, the only exception being a loss in the fourth round of the French Open to #2 Jana Novotna. This run included victories over World #1 Hingis in Berlin, as well as #3 Steffi Graf in Eastbourne.
Kournikova’s victory over Graf was significant in a multitude of ways. Firstly, in beating Graf, Kournikova defeated the player largely exalted as the greatest player in the history of women’s tennis, on account of Graf’s 107 career singles titles, twenty-two of which were Grand Slams. Secondly, Kournikova’s win was only Graf’s third loss on a grass court in the 1990s, a surface on which she had dominated, winning seven Wimbledon titles. Lastly (and perhaps most importantly), Kournikova fell and injured her thumb near the end of the match, an injury that forced her to withdraw from the semifinals of the Eastbourne tournament, as well as Wimbledon. Many believe that this injury prevented her from ever reaching the level she had been projected to reach, as her serve was hindered by the injury, and became a glaring weakness in her game.
Despite the injury, Kournikova managed to stabilize her ranking just outside the top ten through her consistent results. While she had not yet won a singles title on the WTA level, Kournikova’s steady play kept her ranking strong. Kournikova’s consistency was record-setting; before losing to #24 Silvia Farina Elia in the fall of 1998, Kournikova had never lost to a player ranked below her in thirty-four matches, a WTA record. It also marked the first time in two years that she lost to a player ranked outside the top fifteen. She the year ranked #13, which was good enough to qualify for the Year End Championships, a tournament only open to the top sixteen in the world.

End of Part 1

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