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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 October, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Kournikova drops retirement hint
Anna Kournikova
Anna Kournikova has given her strongest hint yet that she will not return to top level tennis.

The 22-year-old has managed only five tournaments this year due to a chronic back injury and has been reduced to playing exhibition doubles matches.

"I do not want to go on playing unless I can participate 100%," she told reporters at the World Music Awards.

"I can still do occasional exhibition games but I can't cope with the rigorous schedule of major tournaments.

"At the end of the day my health is the most important thing I have and I don't want to risk losing that."

Kournikova has a chronic sprain of the lumbar spine, a condition which is inoperable.

"I have been playing since I was five - that's 17 years of hard training every day," she added.

"Tennis is my life and I really don't know what's going to happen but we will see in January."

Kournikova reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 1997 at the age of 16 and quickly established herself in the world's top 10.

However, a first WTA title continued to elude her and she soon faced criticism for her ability to attract millions in sponsorship despite apparently underachieving on court.

She suffered a stress fracture in her left foot in 2001 and failed to rediscover her form.

The Russian recently tried her hand at presenting at the US Open, but lasted only three days after admitting that she found interviewing her fellow players difficult.

Her one-time doubles partner Martina Hingis, also 22, was forced to quit the game earlier this year after suffering from severe ankle problems.

Fears grow for Kournikova
05 Oct 03  |  Tennis
Kournikova skips US Open
24 Jul 03  |  Tennis
Kournikova to take backward step
29 Apr 03  |  Tennis

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