Andy Roddick and Brooklyn Decker.
And not just because Elton John sang at their wedding. It was thanks to Decker, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Roddick that came so close to winning Wimbledon, losing a 16-14 fifth set to Roger Federer in 2009. A year earlier, Roddick had lost early at the All England Club, and he had been contemplating retirement. Decker talked him out of it.
Serena Williams and ‘So-and-so’.
If this unnamed former boyfriend had not dumped Williams in such callous fashion, perhaps the ‘Serena Slam’, the run of successive majors across the 2002 and 2003 seasons, would never have happened. “The guy tore my heart in half,” Williams disclosed in her memoirs, though she declined to call him by his name. “The worst part was that he left me thinking it was me. He left me thinking that I was ugly. So I decided that tennis would be my salvation. I would get So-and-so to regret how he had treated me. I wanted him to see me everywhere, to stay in this guy’s face, to be a constant reminder of what we had, to rise above his shabby treatment. It was all about lifting myself from the dirt he left me lying in.”
John McEnroe and Tatum O’Neal.
At the start, this was a chemically-enhanced relationship. “The first time Tatum and I made love, we were high and it was terrible,” McEnroe has recalled. “Shouldn’t that have told me something? It wasn’t as though she was saying, ‘let’s do drugs’. I was the guilty party also. It wasn’t a particularly romantic occasion.” McEnroe married the actress, they had three children together, she became addicted to heroin, and they divorced.
Martina Hingis and her tennis-playing boyfriends.
The American publication ‘Tennis’ once carried an analysis of her romantic history with the rather ungallant heading of, ‘The Black Widow – Martina Hingis mates, then she kills (OK, she maims)’. The Point they were making was that those who stepped on with the Swiss tended to then experience a downturn in their careers. Justin Gimelstob, an American, had back problems after dating Hingis, while the Swiss Julian Alonso left the circuit just a few seasons after being named Newcomer of the Year, and Sweden’s Magnus Norman hurt his hip and never regained the form which had once taken him to a French Open final. Hingis was once engaged to a Czech player, Radek Stepanek, but they did not make it to the church.
Bjorn Borg and Jannike Bjorling.
Invited to be on the judging panel for a wet T-shirt competition in a nightclub, Borg walked off into the night with the 17-year-old girl who took second place. Borg, whose marriage to his childhood sweetheart Mariana Simionescu had ended, fathered a child with Bjorling. But that relationship did not last either, and Borg married for a second time, to Loredana Berte, an Italian glamour model and rock star who used to appear half-naked and covered in glitter on the cover of her albums. Her signature song was ‘Non sono una signora’ (I am not a lady).
Martina Navratilova and Judy Nelson.
Nelson, a former beauty queen, had left her husband and two sons for a life with Navratilova. She did not take it lightly when they split up (“When Martina decides to say goodbye, she doesn’t look back – I never saw it coming and thought she adored me”, taking Navratilova to court for ‘galimony’, for half the tennis player’s earnings when they were together. Navratilova settled out of court, paying her former lover millions of dollars.
Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields.
Even on their wedding day, a darkly comic occasion “with four helicopters of paparrazi circling overhead”, and with the groom wearing platform shoes to avoid being towered over by his bride, Agassi had his doubts. “I have a thought no man should have on his wedding day. I wish I were leaving. I wish I had a decoy groom to take my place,” he recalled in his book, Open. Those doubts intensified the next day, at a family barbecue, which Agassi and Shields arrived at on horseback and dressed as cowboy and cowgirl.
Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert.
In the summer of 1974, they were the Love Match, the Love Double. Connors won Wimbledon, and so did Evert, his fiancee. They danced together at the champions’ ball. Their relationship did not last. Connors would go on to marry a Playboy model (Patti McGuire), and Evert would go on to marry and divorce a tennis player (John Lloyd), a skier (Andy Mill) and a golfer (Greg Norman).
Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy.
Opinion is divided as to what to make of the golf club that McIlroy gave to Wozniacki engraved with the couple’s nickname, ‘Wozilroy': there is roughly an even split between cute and sickening. Together, they have world number one ranking and a major (she brings the ranking, he brings golf’s US Open).
Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.
There were three people in Agassi’s first marriage, to Brooke Shields: him, her and The Woman on The Fridge. That woman was Graf. Shields had pinned the picture to the fridge door to give her inspiration. “It’s a picture of the perfect woman, Brooke says,” Agassi recalled in his book. “The perfect woman with the perfect legs – the legs Brooke wants.” Agassi and Graf’s children, Jaden Gil and Jaz Elle, could not have better genes for tennis.