Thursday, August 24, 2017

Anna Kournikova, Tennis Legend

Anna Kournikova Soothes the Savage Beast

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Anna Kournikova.

Anna Sergeyevna Kournikova (born 7 June 1981) is a Russian-American professional tennis player. She is the second Russian tennis player on this blog, the other being Maria Sharapova. Both ladies are known for their modelling endeavors and raw beauty.

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Unlike Sharapova, though, Kournikova, is more renowned for her off-the-court skills than for winning tournaments, and for the perpetual air of mystery that surrounds her.

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While she still plays the occasional exhibition match and doubles in World Team Tennis, Kournikova retired from the professional circuit over a decade ago due to a bad back.

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Contrary to what many believe, Anna was a top player whose speciality was doubles. Kournikova's career doubles record was 200-71 at the very highest levels of competition.

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Kournikova won $3.5 million in prize money during her career, and they don't just give that money away. She played very well despite not winning any singles tournaments.

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Many considered her a top player at the net, exhibiting a typical groundstroke style otherwise.

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Many, many players would have loved to have Anna Kournikova's record on the tour, where at one time she was ranked eighth in the world.

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Reputed to be one of the prettiest natural beauties in the world, Anna grew up in Moscow and started playing tennis at the age of five.

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Getting serious about it a couple of years later, Anna joined a prestigious tennis club and soon began playing juniors tournaments. Then, it was off to Florida to focus solely on tennis. She debuted at the 1996 US Open at age 15, and everyone noticed the fantastically beautiful Russian girl.

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Kournikova's love life attracted almost as much attention as her playing. She was involved in a strange romantic triangle between herself and Russian hockey players Pavel Bure and Sergei Fedorov.

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Whether or not she actually married Fedorov remains an open question. He claims that they married in Moscow and divorced in 2003, while she denies any marriage at all. That's how it rolls in Russia.

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In any event, whatever relationship Kournikova and Fedorov had did not last very long. In 2001, Anna took up with Enrique Iglesias, with whom she had filmed a famous music video ("Escape"). It also is unclear if those two ever got married, or if they separated, but the consensus appears to be that they never got hitched.

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Regardless of a formal marriage, Kournikova and Iglesias apparently bought an expensive home together in Florida and remain together. Maybe.

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The Kournikova/Iglesias relationship is extremely private. They rarely going out together, and Enrique occasionally drops hints that something is in the offing regarding marriage (though that apparently has not happened as of this writing in 2017). Among the odder aspects of their relationship, Anna reportedly has never met Enrique's father Julio - after 16 years of being with him. Regarding marriage, Enrique was quoted thusly:
We're just as happy. There comes a point when you've been with someone for a certain amount of time that I believe that you are like, married. I guess the only difference is that we haven't walked down the aisle. I've never really thought marriage would make a difference. Maybe it's because I come from divorced parents, but I don't think you love someone more because of a piece of paper.
If you really want a picture of them together, hang out at The Palm restaurant in Beverly Hills. They show up there together once every few years. Otherwise... good luck. They apparently don't go out much together.

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Anna quickly realized that her real strengths lay off the court. She promoted Berlei's shock absorber sports bras with its notorious "only the ball should bounce" billboard campaign.

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Anna was the among the first professional tennis players to have appeared in Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, in 2004, following Serena Williams in 2003. They since have been joined by Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Kirilenko, Daniela Hantuchova, Tatiana Golovin and several others.

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People Magazine named Anna to its 50 Most Beautiful People of 1998 list, while FHM put it at the top - not just on the list, but at the very top - of its 2002 FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World.

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Sports network ESPN, on the other hand, gave Anna a lot of publicity by labelling her a flop and a failure - while she happily deposited her match winnings and modelling income in the bank.

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Anna served as a celebrity trainer on NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser" in 2010 and 2011.

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Both a computer virus and a variation on the White Russian drink have been named after Anna Kournikova. These are among her biggest accolades, you don't name a drink after someone unless she's a superstar.

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Anna remains extremely popular on Instagram, where she has close to half a million followers. Most would agree that Kournikova remains a stunningly beautiful woman a full decade after she stopped playing tennis, reportedly because she maintains a vigorous workout regimen.

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Anna Kournikova posting on Instagram in August 2017.


2017

Ciara, Crunk Hip-Hop Legend


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Ciara.

Ciara Princess Harris (born October 25, 1985), who performs under her first name Ciara, is an American singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and model. She has won numerous awards for her records and has branched out into a number of new directions. Aside from all that - Ciara has sold well over 20 million records worldwide, and those kinds of sales speak loudly.

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Ciara was born in Austin, Texas to Jackie and Carlton Harris. Her father was in the army, so, like many army brats, she wound up living on bases around the country and in Germany.

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Winding up in Atlanta during her teens, Ciara formed an all-girl group, "Hearsay," but it did not last long. She began writing songs, and found an agent to get her a publishing deal. It was a start.

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Ciara met producer Jazze Pha, and the two began recording together in 2002. Ciara recorded four demos which formed a basis for an eventual album.

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After graduating from high school in Riverdale, Georgia, Ciara snagged a recording contract with LaFace Records through her contact Jazze Pha. LaFace Records at that time was run by L.A. Reid, who would become a long-time supporter. Ciara went to work in earnest recording songs for a debut album under the guidance of record producer Sean Garrett.

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One of Ciara's songs, "Got Me Waiting," caught the eye of Fantasia Barrino. Fantasia recorded it for her own debut album, "Free Yourself" in 2004. It was another big step forward for Ciara.

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Ciara released the title track to her upcoming album, "Goodies," on June 8, 2004. The song was in the "crunk" style popularized by Usher and espoused a theme of sexual abstinence. The single hit No. 1 on singles charts in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. It was a fantastic debut, but the best was yet to come.

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Ciara's debut album, "Goodies," dropped on September 28, 2004. It debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200, an amazing performance for a debut album from an unknown singer. Better yet, it debuted atop the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. "Goodies" went triple platinum and spent 71 weeks on the U.S. album chart and twenty weeks on the UK album chart.

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Ciara released her second album, "Ciara: The Evolution," on December 5, 2006. The album hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and sold over two million copies worldwide. Lead single "Get Up," featuring Chamillionaire, went top ten in the U.S. and New Zealand. Three other singles hit the top forty in the United States.

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Billboard magazine named Ciara its "Woman of the Year" for 2008.

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Ciara released her third album, "Fantasy Ride," on May 3, 2009. It debuted at No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and ultimately sold almost 200,000 copies. Two singles from the album, "Never Ever" and "Love Sex Magic," both hit the U.S. top ten. Both featured collaborations with other popular artists, the former with Young Jeezy, the latter with Justin Timberlake.

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After focusing on touring during 2009, Ciara returned to the recording studio and released her fourth studio album, "Basic Instinct," on December 14, 2010. The album hit the charts, but did not sell as well as her previous efforts. Ciara complained on Facebook that she was not receiving proper promotion by her record label, Jive Records. She switched labels to Epic Records, run by her old friend L.A. Reid, in July 2011.

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Ciara released the first single, "Sorry," from her upcoming fifth album in September 2012. The release was fumbled, with another single announced first, then "Sorry" replacing it. The single only hit No. 40 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, while not making the Billboard Hot 100 at all.

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The release of Ciara's fifth album also had issues. The name was changed at the last minute to "Ciara" after another name had been announced. Released on July 9, 2013, the album debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, performing much better than its predecessor.

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Ciara soon went to work on her sixth studio album. She released lead single "I Bet" on January 26, 2015, and supported the upcoming album with a tour beginning in May of that year. Album "Jackie" was released on May 1, 2015 and debuted at No. 17 on the Billboard 200. Ciara later switched labels to Warner Bros. Records.

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Ciara married Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on July 6, 2016. They have a daughter, born in April 2017. Ciara also has a son, born in May 2014, with then-fiance Future.

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I'm not totally innocent, and I do date. But as a young woman, I also demand respect.

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I truly believe that if you put your goals in writing, speak them out loud and work for them, they will happen.

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Being in this industry makes you develop more quickly than a typical child would. You mature faster.

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Ciara on her 25th birthday with Kim Kardashian.

Ciara credits Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Destiny's Child for encouraging her to pursue a musical career. She also has branched out into modelling, representing Jay-Z's Rocawear. Ciara also does work for Verizon and promotes charitable causes.

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I love shopping! I'm impatient though. I'll go to the mall and in 30 minutes be ready to go."

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Ciara signed a modelling contract with IMG in May 2016, which has led to a major deal with Revlon.

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2017

Kristen Stewart, Twilight Legend

Nobody Does Bella Better than Kristen

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Kristen Stewart

Kristen Jaymes Stewart (born April 9, 1990) is an American actress who is best known for playing Bella Swan in the five films of The Twilight Saga. Kristen remains one of Hollywood's top young actresses despite the passing of the "Twilight" craze.

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Kristen was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her father works for Fox in various capacities and her Australian mother is a script supervisor. Having parents in the business no doubt eased her entry into show business, though of course it takes a lot of work for anyone. Kristen has an older brother, Cameron, and adopted brothers Dana and Taylor.

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Kristen spent a year auditioning for roles before she was ten. Finally, she landed a bit part on the Disney channel. This led to a bit part in Brian Levant's "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" (2000). The following year, Kristen got her first role playing a named character in "The Safety of Objects" (2001).

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In her early roles, Kristen generally played tomboys or girls in troubled situations. She received a Young Artist Award nomination for playing a tomboy in Jodie Foster's "Panic Room" (2002).

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She followed "Panic Room" with Sharon Stone's "Cold Creek Manor" (2003), once again being nominated for a Young Artist Award.

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Now a recognized actress with significant credits to her name, Kristen had her first starring role in "Catch That Kid" (2004). The media began to take notice of the rising young star, and Kristen singled out her performance in  Lifetime/Showtime television film "Speak" (2004) for praise:
Ms. Stewart creates a convincing character full of pain and turmoil.

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Kristen continued building her resume with Meg Ryan's "In the Land of Women" (2007) and Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" (2007).

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Kristen was in mostly small, independent films during this period. For her performance in "The Cake Eaters" (2007), Kristen received a lot of praise despite the film itself receiving much distribution. While such films did not make Kristen a superstar, they were enough to show casting directors and directors her promise as an actress.

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Catherine Hardwicke was one such director who noticed that Kristen Stewart was a rising young actress. Hardwicke had been chosen to direct "Twilight," a film about vampires based on the wildly popular book series by Stephenie Meyer. It is difficult to describe how popular the "Twilight" books were in the early 2000s - people would actually hold parties at bookstores to celebrate their releases. This was a sure-fire franchise, and Hardwicke held the keys to the kingdom for young actors.

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Catherine Hardwicke casually visited Kristen on the set of "Adventureland" (2009), another typical Stewart project in which she played a key supporting role (and ultimately received good notices). After an informal screen test of Stewart, Hardwicke decided that Kristen was perfect for the part of Bella Swan, the main character in the "Twilight" books. Just like that, Kristen Stewart's life had changed forever.

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Stewart was cast opposite Robert Pattinson, who played the vampire Edward Cullen who seduced Bella Swan into the vampire community. Filming began in February 2008 and lasted for about three months. The studio kept things quiet, and there was a lot of speculation about who would play Bella.

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Thus, Kristen did not receive an exceptional amount of attention until, on November 16, 2007, Summit Entertainment announced that Stewart would play main character Isabella "Bella" Swan. The film opened shortly afterwards, on November 21, 2008.

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As anyone familiar with the book series could expect, "Twilight" was a huge success. Kristen expertly played a naive young girl experiencing a gradual descent into a bizarre, but romantic, eternal underworld.

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While Stewart's performance in the five Twilight films wasn't universally praised, she did well enough to make the franchise hugely successful. Critics noted that her specialty in the role was a blank look into which the viewer is invited to project their own interpretation of how the character should be feeling. This entranced the book series' readers who all had their own views of what the character would be feeling, without disturbing their preconceptions.

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To say that "Twilight" vastly raised Kristen Stewart's profile is an understatement. By 2010, she was onstage at the Oscars presenting a tribute to the horror movie genre. In between filming the remaining "Twilight" films (five in total), Kristen continued acting in independent films, though now as the lead. One such was "The Runaways" (2010), in which Kristen portrayed rocker Joan Jett to critical acclaim.

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Kristen was riding high. She topped Vanity Fair's 2010 "Top Hollywood Earners List," making an estimated $28.5 million that year. Stewart also received a BAFTA "Rising Star" award.

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The "Twilight" saga concluded with the release of  "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2" in November 2012. All five "Twilight" films were massive successes. She followed up the role with that of Snow White in "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012).

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Kristen now was an established superstar in Hollywood. She became a presenter at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in 2013, and Chanel hired her to promote a new Western-inspired fashion line. Balenciaga chose Kristen as the face of a new fragrance, Rosabotanica. Forbes estimated that Kristen was the third-highest-paid actress of 2013, earning $22 million. Not bad for someone who was playing supporting roles in independent films only five years earlier!

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Since the conclusion of the "Twilight" series, Kristen has resumed her career in largely independent films, and not always as a leading lady. For instance, she played supporting characters in "Anesthesia" (2015), "Certain Women" (2016), and "Café Society" (2016). She also plays lead roles, as in "Underwater" (2018), for which Kristen shaved her head and thus got the obscure project media attention.

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There is no question that Kristen Stewart remains a force in Hollywood, and will for many years to come. It is only a matter of time before she gets another high-profile role in a blockbuster and dominates the media again.

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All I try to do in the press is be honest about something that I really care about.

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2017