Tennis is probably the only sport where the women’s game is followed as much for the glamour as game itself.
Suzanne Lenglen, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and many more such names have been known for their glamour.
In some cases, the glamour took precedence and the game got lost somewhere in the midst.
Rediff.com takes a look at a few such players who redefined glamour in the sport but their professional careers have hardly anything to write about.
Anna Kournikova (Russia)
She gave the word ‘sexy’ a new definition.
Her gorgeous looks made her a celebrity even before she had taken to court. Endorsements followed. So did music videos and the paraphernalia.
Tennis got lost somewhere in the midst.
Anna Kournikova reached just one major semi-final (Wimbledon in 1997) and though she reached a career-high ranking of No.8 in the year 2000, it was her inability to win even one WTA singles title that made her famous (err…infamous) on the court.
Anna Chakvetadze (Russia)
To give credit where it is due, Anna Chakvetadze was fairly consistent in the early part of her career.
In 2007, at the age of only 20, she made it to the last four stage at the US Open, her lone Grand Slam semi-final.
That year the Moscow-born player also won four of her eight career singles title, besides reaching a career-high ranking of No. 5.
That was just about it as far as her career was concerned.
And, mind you, she is still playing the sport!
Anna Chakvetadze of Russia during the Fashion Show at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 14, 2009
Maria Kirilenko (Russia)
Even as we write this, Maria Kirilenko has been caught by officials at the ongoing Australian Open for illegally wearing a visor with two sponsor logos.
The problem with the glamorous Russian is that she has sponsors aplenty, and it is difficult to keep everyone happy.
The 25-year-old Russian has won five singles titles and reached a career-high ranking of No. 12.
But it is her looks that have always taken precedence over her game. Being selected as the face of the Stella McCartney range by Adidas is just a case in point.
In 2009 she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
Maria Kirilenko of Russia poses on a mirror court at the Adidas by Stella McCartney media launch
Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia)
Daniela Hantuchova is often referred to as the ‘Babe from Bratislava’.
In 2009 she appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and also nude on magazine covers.
Before you ask for more, let’s tell you that she has been playing tennis for more than a decade and done precious little as a singles player.
To give credit where it is due, Hantuchova has won all the four major titles in mixed doubles.
Daniela Hantuchova arrives at the 2012 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 11, 2012 in Los Angeles
Nicole Vaidisova (Czech Republic)
Her story is like that of Anna Chakvetadze’s.
Nicole Vaidisova won all her six singles finals in a two-year span from 2004-06. In August 2006, she became one of the youngest players in the top 10.
Thereafter, her career went on a downward spiral even as she became the face of brands like Reebok and Citizen watches.
In March 2010, she announced her retirement from sports citing a ‘lack of interest’.
She was later involved with fellow-Czech player Radek Stepanek, whom she later married.
Nicole Vaidisova of Czech Republic arrives for the WTA Tennis fashion show part of the Rogers Cup Tennis Tournament in Montreal
Jelena Dokic (Australia)
In 1999, Jelena Dokic, then just 16, created history at Wimbledon by beating the then World No.1 Martina Hingis — at No. 129 the lowest ranked player to beat the top seed at a major.
She attained a career-high ranking of No. 4 in August 2009 and won six singles titles as well.
However, she is better-known for her glamour and the controversies surrounding her than her tennis.
Jelena Dokic of Australia
Tatiana Golovin (France)
Yet another player to have appeared in the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, Tatiana Golovin had a promising start to her career, winning the mixed doubles title (along with Richard Gasquet) at the French Open in 2004.
Her two singles titles came in Amelia Island and Portoroz in 2007 and in February 2008 she was ranked a career-high No.12.
Golovin’s career progressed at snail’s pace thereafter and injuries forced to call it quits early.
Tatiana Golovin arrives at the Gala dinner of the Peace & Sport 4th International Forum on December 2, 2010 in Monaco
Sorana Cirstea (Romania)
She is one of the most-followed players on Twitter.
In 2011, MSN recognized Sorana Cirstea as one of the most beautiful women in sport.
However, when it comes to her singles career, suffice to say, the Romanian has done precious little.
Sorana Cirstea attends the 13th Annual BNP PARIBAS TASTE OF TENNIS, benefitting New York Junior Tennis
Iveta Benesova (Czech Republic)
One of the most-followed players thanks to her glamour quotient, Iveta Benesova has been playing tennis for a decade-and-a-half now.
Her singles career has little to mention.
In mixed doubles, though, she did win Wimbledon in 2011 with future husband Jurgen Melzer.
Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic
Mirjana Lucic (Croatia)
At just 15, she partnered fellow-teen Martina Hingis to the women’s doubles titles at the 1998 Australian Open.
Deals with major brands followed.
However, 15 years on Mirjana Lucic is a forgotten entity.
Mirjana Lucic attends the 13th Annual BNP PARIBAS TASTE OF TENNIS, benefitting New York Junior Tennis & Learning in New York.