Kolkata, Sep 20 (UNI) She has the gait of a ballerina and style of a fashion icon. She is also one of the fastest rising and talked about tennis star on WTA tour.
Meet Maria Kirilenko, the happening Russian star in the lines of Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova, and she will dazzle you sashaying down the ramp in a black western outfit or wrapped in a chiffon sari.
Ranked 35 in the world, she is seen as one of the new stars on the horizon of world tennis along with a slew of tennis stars that Russia has produced over the years.
Kirilenko is making music here on court, much like her classical leaning. A self-confessed fan of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, the 20-year-old svelte beauty from Moscow is all set to win hearts here.
And not only is she keen to make a mark with her tennis, she also wants to do it in style, much like Roger Federer whose style statements are perhaps now making more news than him winning tournament. Her strong preference is for Stella McCartney's creations.
''I follow fashion and always like to wear the latest styles. My favourite designer, of course, is McCartney,'' she told UNI.
Aware of her glam quotient, she said, ''I am honoured to be chosen to wear Stella's creations. They are attractive, stylish and comfortable. It is nice if people find me attractive, but I want to be known for my tennis.'' The ravishing Russian belle added that she closely follows fashion and always likes to wear the lastest styles. No wonder, then, she is ranked No. 4 on the ACE tennis magazine's list of Top 10 sexiest players of the world. Kirilenko was selected to be the face of Adidas by the Stella McCartney tennis range.
Seeded fourth here, the Russian is a close friend of Maria Sharapova. ''We are good friends and we have a lot in common. We have known each other since we were 13,'' she quipped when asked about her association with her namesake.
A budding ballet dancer, she started playing tennis at the age of seven when her father, Yuri, got her admitted to Dinamo Moscow, one of the best tennis facilities in Russia. And having reached 35 on the WTA rankings, she has given credence to her father's choice.
But she still enjoys music and though a hectic life on tour prevents her from practising ballet, she never misses an opportunity to watch.
''I like listening to lots of different music and I love classical. I don't listen to it as much as I would like, though.
Ballet was something that I did as a child. I don't really have time to practise anymore but I do enjoy watching it,'' she said.
She enjoys cellist Mstislav Rostropovich's music: ''I admire his music and like listening to the cello.'' Asked who is her idol, she skirted the issue, saying she had too many. ''I have many from a wide range of areas.'' And despite having varied interests, she is not too keen on thinking of life after or outside tennis.
''Right now, my focus is on tennis. I am still young and will think about life outside tennis later in my career,'' she signs off.