Wonderbra of Wimbledon

Anna Kournikova billboards proclaim the utility and beauty of the sports bra.

By Jack Boulware

Published June 26, 2000 7:31PM (EDT)

British commuters headed in the direction of the Wimbledon championship this week will receive a sneak peak of cleavage belonging to teenage tennis star Anna Kournikova. The breasts, which have become a popular item on the Internet (along with the rest of Kournikova's body parts), are all the more noticeable and prominent because they are now under contract to be exactly that.

Following the lead of supermodels such as Eva Herzigova, who helped market the push-up Wonderbra, the 19-year-old blond recently signed a deal with Berlei to promote their Shock Absorber sports bra. Since then, promoters have been busy plastering her cleavage all over billboards, trying to finish in time for Wimbledon. In the spirit of the legendary tennis tournament (as well as a legendary British fondness for milk glands), a large image of the young woman's breasts comes accompanied by the slogan: "Only the ball should bounce."

Now under contractual obligations, Kournikova obliged with a press appearance for the new ad campaign, at a launch party at the International Lawn Tennis Centre in Eastbourne.

"I was amazed to learn that an astonishing number of women felt that wearing a sports bra only matters when you take part in very active sports," said Kournikova. "This is really not the case, as over half the women questioned were not aware of the damage that could be caused by not wearing the right sports bra ... I hope that this research, along with the new advertising campaign, will encourage women to recognize the importance of wearing a sports bra."

Her warnings are backed up by hard medical science. A survey of 200 physicians discovered that 82 percent of them believed a sports bra both helped prevent breast motion, and also reduced stress on the breast ligaments. Clearly, wearing a sports bra is better than not wearing one.

Kournikova's motivation for participating in the campaign may well be her concern for athletic breasts in general. She doesn't need the money, having earned a reported $9 million in the last year.

This year's Wimbledon will see Kournikova striving for her first major singles title. Currently ranked 15th among the world's female tennis players, and first in doubles, she will be closely watched throughout the tournament. And thanks to her recent ad campaign, eyes will be straining to assess the effectiveness of her Shock Absorber.

Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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