A young Sofia Kenin with Anna Kournikova.
A young Sofia Kenin with Anna Kournikova.

Adorable Kournikova photo resurfaces

AN adorable photo of a young Sofia Kenin hugging Anna Kournikova has gained new life on social media as the American follows in the former tennis star's footsteps.

Kenin upset Ash Barty 7-6 7-5 yesterday in their Australian Open semi-final to break hearts around the country and move into her first ever grand slam decider.

The 21-year-old had never qualified for the final four of a major before arriving in Melbourne but is now within reach of her greatest career achievement.

A win over unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza on Saturday night would cap a remarkable start to the season for the young gun after she stunned world No. 1 and reigning French Open champion Barty in oppressive heat.

Kenin - who like Kournikova was born in Moscow before her family moved to America - has followed in the Russian icon's footsteps by advancing to this weekend's final. Kournikova played in two Australian Open finals herself, winning doubles titles in 1999 and 2002.

It's why the cute snap of Kenin, taken by Tour photographer Art Seitz and which features on Kenin's personal website, is doing the rounds once again as more than one moment from the 14th seed's past crops up during her Australian Open charge.

A child prodigy, Kenin always had ambition as a youngster but her name was relatively unknown outside tennis circles until this week. People who spend their year watching tennis would have recognised her but for casual fans who may only tune in come grand slam time, Kenin would have been easy to overlook.

"I mean, yeah, I know people haven't really paid attention much to me in the past," said Kenin, who is the youngest woman to beat a world No. 1 at a grand slam since 2002.

"I had to establish myself, and I have. Of course, now I'm getting the attention, which I like. Not going to lie."

At just six, Kenin was already on the covers of magazines and after beating Barty she reminisced about a video of her as a kid talking about US Open champion Andy Roddick that went viral as her wining streak continued at Melbourne Park.

"I'm so speechless. I honestly can't believe this. I've just dreamt about this since … that Andy Roddick video," Kenin told Jim Courier during her on-court interview.

In the famous clip, a five-year-old Kenin claims she could return Roddick's booming serve.

"I could return his serve," Kenin said all those years ago. "If I split and then I turn around and hit my forehand with my short swing."

Kenin quickly rose up the USTA junior levels and was ranked No. 1 in the 12, 14, 16, and 18-and-under divisions. In 2014, she represented the United States at the Summer Youth Olympics.

Kenin bypassed a scholarship to play tennis at the University of Miami and instead turned pro in 2017. She advanced to the third round of the US Open three years in a row, defeating Maria Sharapova in 2017, but the best result in her prior 11 main-draw grand slam appearances was a fourth-round loss at the 2019 French Open to Barty.

With Thursday's win, Kenin is expected to break into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in her career.

Meanwhile, Kournikova is reportedly pregnant with her and singer Henrique Iglesias' third child.

The pair have twins and while they haven't publicly announced they are expecting another addition to the family, Spanish magazine Hola! obtained pictures showing Kournikova in Miami with an unmistakeable baby bump.


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