Anna Kournikova was excited when Serena Williams won the Australian Open, the same event in which Kournikova won two women's doubles titles.
Not excited enough, though, to rejoin the women's tour. "She's an amazing player and she's a great inspiration," Kournikova said of Williams. "The reason why I really haven't come back seriously is my health. I don't think I can survive it. I don't think I can hold up with my back."
Kournikova and Martina Hingis won the doubles titles in 1999 and 2002. The Russian player also reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1997 and was ranked as high as eighth in women's singles. On Saturday, she'll play two mixed doubles exhibitions with Tracy Austin and two men during the Champions Cup, an eight-tournament series featuring retired male players. The field for the three-day event that starts on Friday at Boston University is made up of Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Mats Wilander, Jim Courier, Todd Martin and Mikael Pernfors.
"I love playing, still being on the court and playing mixed doubles," Kournikova said in a telephone interview. She also thinks it's good for the sport that the same players tend to dominate Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Williams. "They just become the names associated with that sport and I think it happens in every sport, not just in tennis," Kournikova said. "It's great. That way people can follow tennis and even people that are not just tennis fans but are sports fans, they can associate those names with the game."