February 9, 2018
Fifteen love…thirty love…forty love…they’re all in love!
We’re beginning to think tennis players are the most romantic people in world sport.
We all know how buying your partner a ticket for Wimbledon is one of the most romantic things you can do, right?
But what about the players? It seems like love is in the air at all the Slams…and before the Slams…and after the Slams.
No wonder a ticket for Wimbledon, the home of tennis, is regarded as the ideal gift on Valentine’s Day. You’ll certainly be taking your partner into a romantic world.
The one you love also loves tennis? They love a bit of glamour, the chance to dress up and be seen where the stars hold court?
Wimbledon’s seductive blend of sporting theatre and super-cool celebrity is enough to win anyone over. That goes without saying.
But as we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s remember just how romantic the players have been recently, too…and in years gone by.
In fact tennis players seem to outshine just about every other sport in their romantic appeal. Fellow players, even fans have become part of the dance.
Is it the loneliness of the circuit? The desire to break out of what is often seen as a goldfish bowl? Whatever the reason, the romantic stories just keep coming.
Look at Wimbledon 2014 finalist Eugenie Bouchard. She just celebrated a year of being romantically linked with a fan…yes, a fan…by taking him to where it all started – the Superbowl!
Remember John Goehrke, the student and New England Patriots fan who wouldn’t give in, even when his team were 21-3 down to the Atlanta Falcons this time last year?
‘If Patriots win we go on a date?’ he tweeted Genie, who replied: ‘Sure.’
Back came the Patriots to win 34-28 in overtime and the Canadian tennis star was as good as her word. She even flew lucky John from Missouri to New York to see a basketball game together.
Now they have just been to watch the Patriots in the Superbowl once more, though this time John’s team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. Not sure Goehrke will mind too much. He got the girl against all odds.
Even Maria Sharapova left a fan dreaming in Turkey late last year. During an exhibition match against Cagla Buyukakcay in Istanbul, a spectator shouted: ‘Maria, will you marry me?’
She stopped, smiled and said: ‘Maybe…’
That was a little more romantic than Steffi Graf’s amusing reply at Wimbledon 1995, when faced with a similar proposal.
‘How much money do you have?’ she asked.
In fellow tennis star Andre Agassi’s case, the answer was “millions.” And they did marry. But not for financial reasons, of course. In fact their romance became one of the great enduring love stories in world tennis.
Tournament success is great for romance. And romance, it seems, is equally great for tournament success. Take Caroline Wozniacki, who outlasted Simona Halep to take her first Grand Slam title.
‘I want to thank my fiancé, you managed to calm me down this morning…this is a special moment, thank you,’ Caroline said later. And the world went aaaahhhh, bless…
Former NBA star David Lee has shown Caroline that an inter-sport romance really can work for her, even though golfer Rory McIlroy had previously broken her heart.
‘The end of my first engagement felt like someone close to me had died,’ she said recently. But the world loved the happy ending for Caroline in Melbourne.
What about Grigor Dimitrov, the passionate Bulgarian, who once bought Maria Sharapova 500 roses? (Could she even get in the room to read the message?)
These days lusty Grigor, a former beau of Serena Williams, is in love with Nicole Scherzinger, who used to go out with Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.
And when Dimitrov won the ATP Finals in London a couple of months back, he knew whom to thank.
‘I want to thank one person here, my girlfriend Nicole. She is somewhere hiding.’
(She wasn’t actually there, she was judging the “X Factor” talent show on British TV at the time, but let’s not allow that to detract from the romance here).
Grigor added: ‘She deserves quite a lot of credit this week, she has been amazing.’
And Nicole’s heart probably melted all over again…
Female tennis players often thrive when they date guys from other sports. Those men understand all the pressures faced by elite performers. But they aren’t part of the incestuous world of the tour.
Look at Ana Ivanovic and Bastian Schweinsteiger. If you weren’t so happy for them, it would almost make you puke.
Schweinsteiger, the big scary German soccer midfielder, said this to Ana on their anniversary: ‘Countless beautiful moments and wonderful memories, words can’t describe how lucky I am to share them with you, I’m the luckiest man alive to have you by my side.’
Not long after that they announced a baby on the way. ‘A little extension to our family…couldn’t be more happy,’ said Ivanovic. How heart-warming is that?
Sloane Stephens, who used to go out with Jack Sock, then found happiness with a soccer player of her own – the USA’s Jozy Altidore. When she won the last US Open, he said: ‘She is special and deserves it more than anyone I can think of…’
On his birthday, Sloane tweeted: ‘My first crush…happy birthday baby, I love you…I don’t think there has been a more positive person in my career…’
See? When you get love right, it helps win you trophies, it can help you make babies, and – OK we’re getting carried away again, right?
But hey, the mushy stories just keep coming! It’s just what tennis does to people!
What happened to Karolina Pliskova just after the last Wimbledon? No, not the world number one thing, (get with the programme).
Yes, that’s right. Remind us Karolina? ‘Yes, actually guys, I’m engaged [to Michal Hrdlicka],’ she said a few months later. ‘It happened after Wimbledon…’
Well, hardly surprising, Wimbledon has that effect on people. Tennis has that effect on people. Look at Flavia Pennetta, who had her heart broken by Carlos Moya.
‘The end of my relationship with Moya hurt me more than any injury,’ she admitted. Must have done. She wouldn’t even use his first name any more.
But did she give up on tennis love? Of course not.
She went out there again, won the US Open, and fell for fellow Italian Fabio Fognini. And guess what? They had a baby together early last summer! Well come on, you didn’t expect Italians to get the love game wrong for long, did you?
The happy tennis love stories are never-ending. The players regarded as Wimbledon royalty provide the best examples of all. Don’t forget that Andy Murray met Kim Sears because her father Nigel was a tennis coach.
And the greatest Wimbledonian (does that word even exist?) of them all, Roger Federer, met his wife Mirka because she was a professional tennis player at the time too.
Roger is always so sweet about Mirka. What did he say recently? ‘Mirka has been amazing support for me, she’s the best. I’m happy she allows me to chase our dreams, because she is in it as much as me. She is super-supportive and without her I might have stopped playing tennis years ago.’
Wimbledon royalty relies on love…and real British royalty loves Wimbledon too! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are regular vistors, particularly Catherine (“Kate” Middleton).
Will we see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Wimbledon after their honeymoon this coming summer? It remains to be seen.
But since tennis players are the most romantic people in world sport, and Wimbledon is the home of tennis, and Harry and Meghan are just about the most romantic couple around right now, why wouldn’t they?
And come to think of it, why wouldn’t you buy your loved one tickets for Wimbledon 2019 too?