Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The international sensation that is Anna Kournikova continues to be sidelined by an injury, a stress fracture in the left foot that has kept the Russian beauty from parading onto a tennis court since early February. The ailment might just prevent her from competing at the prestigious French Open later this month.
Kournikova has been forced to skip a number of events because of the injury, including this week's clay-court Betty Barclay Cup tournament in Hamburg. The slow-healing injury also forced the Russian star to withdraw from next week's lucrative tournament in Berlin and the following week's event in Rome, which means German tennis fans won't be able to witness the world's sexiest female athlete until at least the last week in September at the Sparkassen Cup tourney in Leipzig, and Italian onlookers will have to go Anna-less until at least July 9, should she decide to play in Palermo the week after Wimbledon.
When informed of Kournikova's withdrawal in Berlin, German Open director Eberhard Wensky exclaimed, "It's a pity because she's always an attraction."
Wensky's words would classify as a classic understatement.
The world No. 11's flat tire hasn't been tested since she succumbed to red-hot French star Amelie Mauresmo in the quarterfinals at Nice nearly three months ago.
The 19-year-old Kournikova hasn't been a serious threat to title on the WTA Tour for some time, and you would certainly expect that trend to continue if and when she returns from a more-than-three-month layoff. Since joining the circuit in 1995, the siren has failed to produce a championship in 93, count 'em, 93 tries. She's just 8-4 in four tournaments this season, with her best finish coming in the form of a semifinal appearance at Tokyo's Pan Pacific Open -- an event eventually captured by American Lindsay Davenport (over Martina Hingis).
In a day and age when it's commonplace for female tennis players to start piling up championship trophies while still in their teens, it would appear as though the Russian tennis prodigy will fail in her bid to do that, with her 20th birthday approaching fast on June 7. The Moscow native was expected to produce on tour, but has not delivered the goods like her fellow youngsters, i.e. Hingis and the Williams sisters.
But monetarily speaking, Kourni's got nothing to be ashamed of due to countless, attractive off-court endorsement deals. The Miami resident will continue to soak up the spotlight because of her radiant beauty, not because of her skills (or lack thereof) on the tennis court.
She'll continue to beat the girls she's supposed to beat on tour, but, as usual, the bombshell will be unable to produce consistent, if any, victories against the game's elite (Hingis, Venus, Serena, Davenport, etc.). In her limited action this season, Kourni is 0-3 in "big" matches, including the loss to Mauresmo. The other setbacks came against Davenport in the Australian Open quarters and the Pan Pacific semis.
Kournikova has virtually no problem beating the Elena Bovinas, Daniela Hantuchovas and Saori Obatas of the world, but throw a top-flight performer into the equation, and you can all but put a fork in the bronze- skinned babe. When not playing Davenport or Mauresmo this season, Anna's a "brilliant" 8-1 (somehow she lost to American Corina Morariu in the second round of the pre-Aussie Open event in Sydney).
But all that aside, we know Kourni's not cashing in based on wins and losses...so I think she'll be just fine.
Until Kournikova fully recovers from the nagging injury, I wouldn't expect to see her much before the May 28 start at Roland Garros. And until her return, we'll just have to admire some of the other beautiful women on the WTA Tour, like gorgeous German Jana Kandarr, leggy Russian Nadia Petrova and Spanish knockout Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo.