Tennis Star Sues Penthouse

Anna Kournikova makes a backhand return during third-round loss to Ruxandra Dragomir.
AP
Anna Kournikova is suing Penthouse's parent company over topless pictures the magazine published and misidentified as photos of the tennis star, her managers say.

She filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles against General Media Communications Inc., owner and operator of Penthouse, a spokesman for Kournikova's management company said Tuesday. No information was released on what damages the lawsuit seeks.

"The complaint is for defamation ... and various other violations of Miss Kournikova's rights under federal and state law," said David Schwab of California-based Octagon, which represents the 20-year-old player.

The announcement came hours after Penthouse apologized for misidentifying the topless pictures, which were actually shots of Judith Soltesz-Benetton, the daughter-in-law of fashion designer Luciano Benetton.

"We deeply regret this unintentional error and offer our heartfelt apologies to both women," the magazine said in a statement.

Penthouse said it had examined the purported images of Kournikova in "painstaking detail" and received assurances from the photographer before deciding they were genuine. "In over 30 years of publishing this magazine, we have never made an error of anything approaching this magnitude," the magazine said.

The statement was released a day after Soltesz-Benetton sued Penthouse, seeking a minimum of $10 million in damages. Her attorney, Judd Burstein, contended the magazine knew about the mistake weeks ago, but published the photos anyway.

The apology "is a month late and $10 million short," Burstein said.

In response to the suit, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ordered the magazine to temporarily stop distributing the June issue to newsstands and blocked it from putting pictures on a Web site.