Anna Kournikova was born in Moscow, Soviet Union, on June 7, 1981. Her father, Sergei Kournikov, was 19 at the time. Sergei, a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion, had earned a Ph.D. and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow. As of 2001, he was still a part-time martial arts instructor there. Her mother Alla, who was 18 when Kournikova was born, had been a 400-meter runner.
Sergei Kournikov has said, "We were young and we liked the clean, physical life, so Anna was in a good environment for sport from the beginning." The family name is spelled in Russian without an "o", so a direct transliteration would be "Kurnikov", and it is sometimes written that way. But it is pronounced "Kournikov", so the family chose that as their English spelling. More information about Russian family names can be found here.
Kournikova received her first tennis racquet as a New Year gift in 1986 at age 5. Describing her early regimen, she said, "I played two times a week from age six. It was a children's program. And it was just for fun; my parents didn't know I was going to play professionally, they just wanted me to do something because I had lots of energy. It was only when I started playing well at seven that I went to a professional academy. I would go to school, and then my parents would take me to the club, and I'd spend the rest of the day there just having fun with the kids." In 1986, Kournikova became a member of the Spartak Tennis Club, coached by Larissa Preobrazhenskaya. In 1989, at the age of eight, Kournikova began appearing in junior tournaments, and by the following year, was attracting attention from tennis scouts across the world. Kournikova signed a management deal at age ten and went to Bradenton, Florida, to train at Nick Bollettieri's celebrated tennis academy.