Staggering Anna Kournikova story emerges after Shane Warne's death

Shane Warne and Anna Kournikova, pictured here before his death.
Shane Warne was such an iconic figure that even Anna Kournikova wanted to meet him. Image: Getty

Cricket writer Robert Craddock has recalled the time Anna Kournikova requested an audience with Shane Warne in a staggering example of the late Aussie cricket legend's celebrity status.

Tributes have been flowing in from all over the world after Warne's death at 52, with some of the biggest names in movies and music expressing their shock.

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Warne was such a colossal figure that his celebrity status extended outside the sporting realm, with high-profile friends like Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Chris Martin.

An a remarkable example of just how well-known he was outside of the sporting landscape, Russian tennis star Kournikova asked to meet Warne during a trip down under in the early 2000s.

Cricket would have been a completely foreign concept in Russia at the time, yet Kournikova knew exactly who Warne was and was desperate to meet the King of Spin.

“We’ve almost forgotten about how big he was when he was playing,” Craddock said on '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.”

Former teammate Brett Lee said Warne was more of a rockstar than a sports star.

“The thing with Shane Warne, he wasn’t just a cricketer, he was a rockstar,” he 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.”

A private jet transporting Shane Warne's body, pictured here arriving at Melbourne airport from Bangkok.
A private jet transporting Shane Warne's body arrives at Melbourne airport from Bangkok. (Photo by AARON FRANCIS/AFP via Getty Images) (AARON FRANCIS via Getty Images)

Shane Warne to be farewelled at state funeral

Coldplay frontman Martin is reportedly set to attend Warne's state funeral at the MCG to be held on March 30.

The MCG was the stage of the leg-spinner's famous Ashes hat-trick in 1994, as well as his 700th Test wicket on Boxing Day in 2006 - his final series before he retired from international cricket.

The stadium is across town from Upper Ferntree Gully, the outer Melbourne suburb where Warne was born.

Warne's family issued a statement on Monday night describing the night of his death as the beginning of "a never-ending nightmare".

"Looking to a future without Shane is inconceivable," his father and mother said.

"Hopefully the mountain of happy memories we all have will help us cope with our ongoing grief."

People, pictured here paying their respects to Shane Warne at his statue outside of the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
People gather to pay their respects to Shane Warne at his statue outside of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. (Photo by Chris Putnam/Future Publishing via Getty Images) (Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Ticket information for the state funeral is yet to be released, but Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said there will no crowd cap at the venue, which can hold up to 100,000 spectators.

"It's a fitting venue to say goodbye to someone who created so many indelible memories on that ground," Mr Andrews told reporters at parliament on Thursday.

Warne's body arrived home in Melbourne on Thursday night on a flight from Thailand, where the 52-year-old died from a suspected heart attack one week ago.

Warne's father Keith and mother Brigitte, holding a single flower, were among several family members to meet the flight.

Warne's eldest daughter Brooke and son Jackson were at the hangar, as well as ex-wife Simone Callahan.

with AAP

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