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The Kournikova Braid Is Summer’s Easiest Updo

There’s plenty of hair inspiration to be drawn from the sports world—and between the build up to the 2024 Olympics and the collective current obsession with all things tennis-related (courtesy of the new Challengers movie), we’re delving into photos of players of yesteryear for our next hairstyle obsession. Former tennis pro Anna Kournikova’s iconic braid–a firm fixture on tennis courts some 20 years ago–is having a renaissance.

The Russian player, who stormed the tennis world in the late ’90s and early noughties, regularly played with a roughly plaited braid in her sunshine-blonde hair. Often worn with a visor–a tennis champ needs her sun protection after all–and just the right amount of texture, Kournikova’s signature braid was both functional (it kept her long hair contained and away from her face) and chic.

So chic, it turns out, that hairdressers predict it will be one of summer’s biggest trends. “A braid like this is quite minimal and doesn’t feel too contrived, but gives your hair a point of view,” says Luke Hersheson. “The slicked-back look feels summery, works on pretty much everyone and is an easy look to achieve.”

Zendaya—and her hairstylist Ursula Stephen—tried the look at the Challengers London premiere (it only served to enhance her tennis-themed wardrobe). A slicked-back pony secured high at the crown of the head, Zendaya’s ultra-long braid was secured with a sporty white bow at the base. A woven hairstyle like this works particularly well when there are different colours in the hair as they add dimension and detail, and ultimately make the braid pop.

Another celebrity who’s played an ace (pardon the pun) with a Kournikova braid recently is Gabrielle Union, who stepped out in New York with a similarly long but somewhat neater take on the style.

How to create the look? “The first thing you need to do is scrape the hair back into a ponytail–use loads of gel because you want the hair to be borderline wet looking, and nice and clean,” explains Hersheson. “Try using a toothbrush to neaten and smooth any baby hairs at the front of the hairline.” Make sure to secure the hair as high on the head as possible.

If your hair isn’t naturally long or thick, the best thing to do, Hersheson says, is to buy a ponytail piece like Beauty Works’ Super Sleek Invisi Pony. “They come with an elastic base, which you wrap over the ponytail and secure. You can then simply do a braid all the way down,” he says, adding that it’s best to choose a color that’s slightly darker than your actual hair, to make it look more natural. “Then you can disguise the base of the ponytail by using a bit of fabric, or a hair tie, like Zendaya’s hairstylist did with ribbon.”

Whether you’re headed to the beach, a pool day, a party or for a workout, the Kournikova braid ticks pretty much every box—it’s time to get acquainted.

Get yourself a braid today with The Shampoo Lounge.The Shampoo Lounge has been attending to an international and Indonesian clientele since 2012 so check out our instagram, our website and our TripAdvisor reviews! We can’t wait to have you in.

Article written by Hannah Coates fro vogue

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