The folks behind The Biggest Loser believe they've got a grand slam on their hands.
With longtime trainer Jillian Michaels leaving NBC's weight-loss series to focus on her new daytime chatfest and becoming a mama, producers revealed that former tennis pinup Anna Kournikova has been tapped as the new celebrity trainer.
The addition of the Russian-born hottie to the training staff was unveiled during season 11's live finale last night, which saw finalist Olivia Ward take the title of the Biggest Loser and the $250,000 grand prize. Olivia beat out her sister, Hannah, after dropping from 261 pounds to an astounding 132 pounds for a total loss of 129 pounds.
Kournikova's hiring is part of an overhaul the popular reality show is getting when it returns for its 12th season next fall. NBC has confirmed that trainers Brett Hoebel and Cara Castronuova, who joined the show last winter, will not be back next season.
Executive producer Todd Lubin told Vulture that Kournikova will be different from the screaming, take-no-prisoners Michaels, holding court opposite fellow fitness guru Bob Harper and serving up her vast experience as a tennis pro to motivate the next batch of heavyweights.
Harper told E! News that he's going to miss Jillian, but is really looking forward to working with and competing against Anna.
"I'm a huge tennis fan," said the trainer. "She's a world class athlete and I think she's going to be just fine in this realm. I would say to her to just really be yourself and not try to fill Jillian's shoes because nobody can. But she can be her own person."
"We intentionally tried to not replace Jillian," Lubin adds, adding that producers looked at hundreds of trainers before settling on the blond beauty.
One thing the 29-year-old Kournikova had going for her: She's already familiar to Biggest Loser viewers, having made a guest appearance in a season 10 episode.
"I'm so excited to be a part of The Biggest Loser team; I've always been a fan of the show," said Anna in a statement today. "As a former professional tennis player and certified trainer, this is a wonderful opportunity for me to share my enthusiasm for staying fit across America's homes. I'm honored to join a program that embraces the values of a healthy lifestyle and is committed to fighting obesity."
For any doubters out there, don't think Anna can't be a stern taskmaster when she wants to, Lubin said.
"But what's alarming about Anna is that when she really gets intense, she starts speaking Russian," Lubin noted. "And as a child of the Cold War, it scares me when she does."
Lastly, Lubin revealed that the leaner, meaner Loser will also be "getting slightly away from just the tape measure, and getting into overall well-being and health. That's where Loser needs to go."
So watch out, Extreme Makeover: Weight-Loss Edition!