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Fedorov admits marriage to Kournikova - The Detroit News
By John Niyo
DETROIT -- Sergei Fedorov isn't married. But he was, and that's an admission he's finally making public after years of speculation about his relationship with tennis star Anna Kournikova.
Fedorov's marriage and subsequent divorce are among several topics the Red Wings center addresses in a candid interview in this week's issue of The Hockey News. Fedorov is featured on the cover with the headline, "Sergei Uncensored," and for the first time he confirms what was long rumored to be true.
"We were married, albeit briefly, and we are now divorced," Fedorov said when asked about Kournikova. "I don't keep in touch with her and I'm not going to be dating anyone for a while."
Fedorov was a scratch from the Wings' game Monday against Columbus because of flulike symptoms.
He does not go into details about the divorce but did cite the couple's age difference as a factor. He is 33; Kournikova will turn 22 in June. The two first raised eyebrows as a couple during the Wings' championship season of 1996-97, when she was 15 and he was 27.
"It's just impossible because I was a little bit older, I think," said Fedorov, who in February 2000 was blindsided by the news that former NHL star Pavel Bure had announced his engagement to Kournikova. Fedorov and Kournikova reportedly were engaged in the summer of 1999.
"I still don't know what it was," Fedorov said. "I read only in magazines what was going on and I basically tried to break up. But she had an explanation and I really believed that it was true and I, sort of ... we patched things up."
His first public admission that the couple had split for good came in an interview with The Detroit News in September, when he spoke at length about his on-again, off-again relationship with Kournikova and the public's infatuation with it.
"Trust me, it was not easy," he told The News. "It was not easy at all. ... But it was a learning experience. And I finally feel like I'm standing on two feet right now. I'm grounded, and I feel comfortable with who I am and what I do."
In The Hockey News interview, he again denied that his breakup with Kournikova had anything to do with his firing agents Brian Lawton and Mike Liut of Octagon, the same firm that represents Kournikova.
Published reports indicated Fedorov was upset that Octagon officials last year introduced Kournikova to pop singer Enrique Iglesias, with whom she was later romantically linked.
"There were some things that happened when I was being represented by Octagon that I found out about after the fact," Fedorov said. "I just don't think they had my best interests at heart."
Lawton, when asked about Fedorov's comments, called them "absolutely false."
Kournikova remains an enigma in professional tennis. She climbed as high as No. 8 in the world rankings, but, hampered by injuries and poor performances in Grand Slam events, she has fallen to No. 67. Still, she remains one of the world's most marketable athletes, reportedly earning more than $10 million annually from her various endorsements.
Meanwhile, Fedorov, who reportedly turned down a five-year, $50 million offer from the Red Wings last fall, has since returned to the International Management Group, with IMG's Pat Brisson as his agent. He becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1, but he said he expects to remain with the Wings after this season.
"It's not even an issue for me at this point," Fedorov said. "I'm confident that with my new representation from IMG that a deal to keep me in Detroit will be able to get worked out."
Brisson and Wings General Manager Ken Holland have spoken recently, but no deal is imminent.
As for Fedorov's recent public complaints about ice time and what he felt was a diminished role with the Wings, he said that, too, has been worked out.
Asked if he considered himself the Wings' go-to player, he said, "I want to be that guy, but I don't know if I am that guy.
"The first part of the season I felt I was that guy, but as the season progressed that wasn't the case anymore. I think the coaches and myself lost confidence in one another. For the past two months, hockey has been a job for me.
"It wasn't until recently when I let my feelings known to the coaching
staff that things got better. I'm back playing in those key situations
and I feel I've been successful and with that (came) a restored confidence