Shane Warne death: Anna Kournikova wanted to meet cricket legend

Of all the wild tales in Shane Warne’s life, Anna Kournikova’s desire to pay him a visit sums up the cricket legend to a tee.

Everyone wanted a piece of Shane Warne.

Amid the tragedy of the Australian icon’s death at just 52, the attraction he held for people from all walks of life has been made abundantly clear — and he boasted a special Hollywood touch no cricketer will ever be able to match.

As tributes flooded in from around the globe after news of Warne’s heart attack in Thailand last weekend, the names tweeting and Instagramming their shock and sadness stood out.

Sir Elton John. Mick Jagger. Hugh Jackman. Russell Crowe. A who’s who of A-listers were mourning the loss of the Spin King.

“The thing with Shane Warne, he wasn’t just a cricketer, he was a rockstar,” former teammate Brett Lee said on The Brett Lee Podcast† “And if you just have a look at the tributes that have flown in from all around the world from Sir Elton John, from Mick Jagger, Ed Sheeran, from Coldplay.

“You’ve got music royalty, sporting royalty, royalty in general. That’s who Shane Warne was — he touched the lives of many people.”

Word of Warne’s cult-hero status even reached the orbit of former tennis star Anna Kournikova. We don’t think cricket has much of a footprint in Russia but Warne was bigger than the game and a teenage Kournikova sought an audience with the leg-spinning legend when she was on tour Down Under.

“We’ve almost forgotten about how big he was when he was playing,” News Corp cricket journalist Robert Craddock told The Follow-On podcast.

“Anna Kournikova, the most glamorous tennis player and athlete in the world, she was in Australia for the summer and wanted to meet Shane Warne.

“And out of the blue (she) turned up at training at the SCG and heads were turning, cameras were whirring.

“She wanted to meet Warnie — it was extraordinary.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be among those at Warne’s state funeral on March 30, but chances are he won’t come close to being the most famous face in the crowd.

The Daily Telegraph reports Coldplay frontman and Warne’s great mate Chris Martin wants to be involved in the service, while the cricket legend’s manager James Erskine said “everybody” wants to pay their respects at the MCG.

“The people that can possibly turn up, will turn up,” Erskine said during the week. “The people that can’t turn up will send a message.

“Everybody wants to turn up. Elton John has dedicated a show in Nassau in America … The whole world basically wants to turn up to remember Shane Warne. But Australia is a long way away.”

Warne’s place in the top tier of global celebrities is aptly summed up by a painting he commissioned years ago to reflect his dream pool party.

There’s Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Jack Nicholson, Sean Connery, Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe — the list goes on. Only two cricketers made the cut — former Australian captain Michael Clarke, who Warne handed down his famous No. 23 jersey to, and ex-England all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas.

You have a feeling if Warne was still with us today, some of those celebs would be desperate to get their name on the invite list of any party he threw.

The amazing thing about Warne is his celebrity appeal wasn’t just restricted to canvas.

Craddock tells a story about the 1999 World Cup in England when Warne told traveling journalists he’d had “enough of fame” and wanted to chuck it all in, move back to Victoria and get back in touch with his old mates.

Sensing Warne was down in the dumps, the cricket reporters invited Warne out to dinner with them. “He said, ‘No, I’m having dinner with Elton John,’” Craddock said.

“So much for turning your back on fame!

“Only Warnie could have that story.”

But amongst the celebrity cameos, Warne was just as happy with his close friends and the average punter. The way the Hobart crowd showered him with love when he did a live TV cross during the fifth Ashes Test last summer is testament to that.

Chants of “Warnie” rank out from the hill and he abandoned whatever pre-conceived broadcast plan he had, going over to give the fans a wave and a big thumbs up, leading to an even more raucous reaction.

As Erskine said last weekend, Warne was as comfortable talking to the queen as he was the cleaner.

Sadly, the world has been robbed of his presence far too soon.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.