comparisons don't fluster U.S. teen
By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer staff writer
Ashley Harkleroad didn't invite the Anna Kournikova
comparisons. But they came knocking.
After being nominated for ESPN's Hottest Female
Athlete, dating Andy Roddick and signing with Nike, the
19-year-old tennis prodigy from Georgia has been dubbed
the "American Anna." The hype will follow her here next
week for the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's
Open, which Monday awarded her a wild-card entry.
"I've been dealing with that (Kournikova talk) since I
was 12," Harkleroad said. "I took it as a compliment.
But I really just want to play and enjoy it."
Harkleroad, who dropped from a career-high No. 39 to
No. 115 after an elbow injury this spring, is back to
No. 93. She said she used to let the hype get to her.
"I was 30-something in the world and didn't enjoy one
second of it," she said. "I was always putting more and
more pressure on myself. This time around, I relax and
look at the positives."
There's a maturity at work here. True to her Bible
Belt roots, Harkleroad has said she carries a Bible on
the road. Earlier this summer, she called off her
wedding with another tennis player, Alex Bogomolov Jr.,
saying they were too young and na‘ve. (The Roddick
relationship was years ago.)
Harkleroad beat Patty Schnyder, who's ranked 16th,
two weeks ago in San Diego. After she lost to Venus
Williams the week before, Williams said of her, "She's a
good player. She's very consistent, she moves well and
Harkleroad joins four other Americans already in the
W&S field: No. 25 Amy Frazier, No. 33 Meghann
Shaughnessy, No. 59 Jill Craybas and No. 82 Laura