Something must be special about the water in Russia because certainly the weather can’t explain one of the most fascinating phenomena in modern-day sports: the bevy of beautiful babes bouncing around the tennis circuit who hail from Mother Russia. We could understand Russian prominence in women’s hockey or sports such as indoor volleyball and gymnastics that are protected from the harsh local winters.
But, the seemingly evergreen crop of Russian women tennis players seems to provide more evidence in favor of divine intervention than natural selection given that outdoor tennis is not even possible for most of the year in Russia. If you ever have the good fortune of watching any of the Russian tennis bombshells up close, you will likely be shouting I Believe as well!
Maria Sharapova set the gold standard as probably the most well-known and accomplished Russian women’s tennis player. She plays a role in designing each of her match outfits and her contract with Nike stipulates that she is the only person allowed wear her outfit design during matches. That’s probably just as well for many of her competitors since they would come out the worse for the comparison.
Did you see her at the 2009 French Open? The lemon yellow tennis outfit was our all-time favorite in her designer collection. When it comes down to our absolute favorite look for Maria, we are partial to her Wimbledon whites. The classic look accentuates her natural beauty in a way that some of the designer outfits cannot with all of their distractions. We thought her look in 2008 hit exactly the right note by combining classic white with see-through sheer cloth.
We can’t forget Anna Kournikova, though, can we? Let’s be honest up-front and admit that her looks gave her a lot of sizzle but when it came to her on-court performance there wasn’t much steak. But, oh boy, she was a lot of fun to watch and we’re still sad that her career ended early from injury. Her 2002 outfit at Wimbledon set the bar for the rest of the decade. We are not sure what it was about an outfit with an exposed midriff that scandalized Wimbledon officials, but we do think it generated a boomlet for the sport of tennis as many guys signed up for lessons that summer.
Kournikova’s part-time modeling career also reminds us of what some have referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World: Russian models. We are hoping that Irina Shayk and Natalia Vodianova will take a cue from Anna and look to broaden their cross-over appeal by taking up tennis soon.
Finally, let’s not overlook Elena Dementieva. She never won a Grand Slam tournament, but she did win an Olympic Gold Medal – something that has eluded Sharapova. While, her on-court attire did not make waves way the other two did, we give her props for winning the consistency award. Year in and year out you could always rely on her to wear pretty much the same Yonex outfit just in occasionally different colors. It reminded us of Smurfette with her closet full of dresses that all happened to be the exact same design. In Dementieva’s case, the outfits grew on us over time and we are guessing that many guys came to appreciate their temperature regulation features in particular.
We are still not sure how Russia keeps churning out beautiful tennis phenoms, but as with some of life’s other great mysteries we are happy to sit back, stop asking too many questions, and just enjoy!