How do you make the 12th season of a reality show feel fresh? By bringing in some fresh judges.

Season 12 of The Biggest Loser airing on Citytv, and stepping in where Jillian Michaels left her sneakers are tennis superstar Anna Kournikova and personal trainer Dolvett Quince. For Kournikova, the opportunity to coach instead of be coached was one she didn’t want to miss out on.

“I was the one that went after this opportunity,” the former No. 8 player in the world says. “I’ve used my body as a tool my whole life on a tennis court. Instead of listening to all the information that was thrown at me, (I’m now) voicing it to the contestants and sharing it with them.”

The tough-girl training style of former coach Jillian Michaels was a hit with viewers, but Kournikova isn’t stressed about taking over.

 

“I didn’t feel any pressure,” she says. “I didn't feel like I was replacing anyone or trying to fill in anybody’s shoes. We all have our own styles. I’m not trying to prove myself by any means. I’m just there to do my part of the job, which is train and educate the contestants about (a) healthy lifestyle.”

For those viewers wary about Kournikova — a buxom blonde who hasn’t found much recent success on the court — taking the reins, she’s eager to set the record straight.

“Listen, I get criticized and judged all the time,” she says. “But to be a top 10 tennis player in the world, I must have been doing something right. And I came from Soviet Union from really nothing. That’s how I tell the contestants I can relate to them. I know what it’s like to be judged and criticized, whether it’s because of your weight or how you look. People have all these preconceived notions and I’m OK with that. The only thing I can control is I can work hard (and) be the best human being I can.”

This season, contestants will face off in a Battle of the Ages competition, with Kournikova coaching the over-50 crowd.

“Obviously the older group is the most difficult for me because they have less energy. They’re much more set in their own way so it’s a lot more difficult to change someone’s mentality who’s in their 50s or 60s.

Regardless of the challenges, she says she got really invested in each contestant’s personal growth.

“You literally become family with these people,” she says.

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