Lolo and Anna

by Jay Nordlinger

Remember Anna Kournikova? Russian tennis player, real purty? I used to have a spiel on her. Hang on, lemme Google. Okay, here’s an item from my Impromptus of July 6, 2001:

. . . For several years now, I have been fascinated with the extreme resentment of [Kournikova], not only from her fellow players but from journalists and others who comment on her. She is a bombshell — blonde at that — and so gets endorsements and attention that she wouldn’t receive otherwise. Everyone likes to point out that she stinks – that she has never won a major tournament and ranks only Number 11 in the world.

I love that: only Number 11. What a hack, Anna Kournikova! Geez, of all the women in the world — how many are there, about 3 billion? — this chick is merely the eleventh-best tennis player.

Whine about Anna’s commercial success all you like, but do you realize how good eleventh-best is? Yes, Kournikova is famous because of her looks. But life isn’t fair, not least in the looks’ department. So deal with it, baby — and people who can barely get out of their chair have no business knocking Kournikova’s tennis.

Yeah, well said (oh, sorry). Anyway, I received an e-mail from my NR homie Patrick Brennan yesterday. (By the way, Pat doesn’t actually answer my e-mails. But he occasionally sends me one, which is nice.) The heading was, “The Kournikova Effect.” Pat gave me a link to a New York Times article on Lolo Jones. Miss Jones is an Olympic hurdler, a member of the U.S. track-and-field team. And, in this article, she comes in for the Kournikova treatment, big time.

Kournikova comes in for the Kournikova treatment, too. The author refers to Anna’s “relatively meager skills.” Yeah, relatively meager compared with like four other women in the whole wide world. This guy gets to write about sports for our Newspaper of Record?

Patrick calls the Times piece “shockingly mean-spirited.” I agree. Frankly, I’m not sure that the Times has ever run so negative a piece about Fidel Castro — a man who has presided over a totalitarian dictatorship with a gulag since 1959. I hope Pat will say more about the article, and the issue, here on the Corner.

For my part, I’ll say just this, before leaving the subject. Yes, Lolo Jones is beautiful — traffic-stoppingly, heart-stoppingly, ship-launchingly beautiful. Yes, she has exploited those looks, shamelessly. She posed nude, or nudish, for a magazine. I don’t admire it, though I may gawk.

But still: She’s an Olympic hurdler (from a country of some 300 million people). According to her Wikipedia entry — how can that be wrong, right? — she won three NCAA titles. Then national titles. Then world titles. She holds the American record in the 60-meter hurdles. And I’m supposed to denigrate her as an athlete as I help myself to another slice of Sacher torte? No, thank you.

There was an ad slogan for a shampoo (or something like that): “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.”

P.S. If Berg were alive today, and watching the Olympics, he might compose an opera called Lolo, not Lulu. (And we might have a popular song that goes, “Whatever Lolo wants, Lolo gets . . .”) 

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