Over the years we have seen many beautiful women compete in sports. By "beautiful" I mean drop dead gorgeous! The prime example of this was Anna Kournikova.
Kournikova was not only beautiful, she was a very talented tennis player with a very high ceiling. When she came onto the scene at the 1996 US Open people took notice at her foot speed and aggressive baseline play. But, wow, she was a blond bomb-shell from Russia that was just about every man's fantasy.
Photographs of her scantily-clad form have appeared in various men's magazines, including more than one SI Swmsuit Issue, FHM and Maxim. Kournikova was named one of People's s 50 Most Beautiful People four times, was voted "hottest female athlete" on ESPN.com, and in 2002 she also placed first in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World. She also appeared in the steamy music video for Enrique Igesias' song Escape. There was no doubt about it . . . Kournikova was HOT!
While she was getting all this fame and notiriety for her beauty and sex appeal, she was considered one of the biggest sports flops and even the most overrated athele of all time. Why, well after over 400 matches, Kournikova has never won a title. That's right . . . no career victories. A total sports disappointment.
But, last Sunday, one of my greatest concerns about another beautiful athlete were put to bed. Danica Patrick will not be another Anna Kournikova.
Danica burst onto the Indy Racing League (IRL) scene with a bang in 2005. Throughout that season she competed well, she won three poles and was the only woman to ever lead a lap at the Indy 500, but it looked like she was going to be an pretty good driver, but popular for other things.
Like Kournikova, Danica did a sexy spread for FHM magazine. She had a number of great endorsement deals and like Kornakova, she appeared in a music video (Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got").
Because she kept competing well but not winning, I thought that she was all hype. Then this February, I was sure she was the next Kournakova when she did a four page spread for the SI Swimsuit issue. Even Celebrity Deathmatch got into the comparisons when they had the two fight in 2007.
But last Sunday all that changed. Last Sunday, in her 50th race, the 26 year-old took home the checkered flag by winning the Indy Japan 300. This pretty face became the first woman to ever win a IRL race. She proved everyone wrong, including me.
I hope that Danika Patrick's win will push woman's sport forward, at least stop the damage that Kournikova has done.
So congratulations Danica on not being content on just being a sex symbol.