Roger & Mirka and Steffi & Andre may have formed the ultimate tennis love-matches, but there are many more tumultuous examples: Kim Clijsters & Lleyton Hewitt, Jimmy Connors & Chris Evert and Radek Stepanek & Martina Hingis broke off their engagements, for example, while Verdasco & Ivanovic, Pennetta & Moya and Stepanek & Vaidisova experienced well-documented courtships and break-ups (yes, ladies, “The Worm” is back on the market, per Tennis.com!)
With the increase in co-ed tournaments and prize money (get thee back, gold digging groupies!), The Wall Street Journal claims that love is in the air – and on the courts – more than ever. I’d argue that Marat Safin’s imminent retirement has dashed the hopes of lusty WTA players, making Radek et. al. more appealing, but what do I know?
Here are some excerpts from Hannah Karp’s WSJ article called Tennis Gets Hot and Heavy: Increase in Co-Ed Events Sparks More Love Matches; Federer as “Eye Candy.” (Click here for the full article and thanks to Forty Deuce for posting on this.)
The allure of The Worm, explained:
Defending the title of ATP playboy, though, is Czech Radek Stepanek. He was engaged to Martina Hingis, is (not) dating Nicole Vaidisova (anymore) and is known for charming ladies with his sense of humor and a victory dance he calls “the worm,” which he debuted at a player party in the Austrian Alps several years ago after a big win and a little too much Schnapps.
“Everyone was very impressed,” recalls Mr. Stepanek, adding that he hopes his popularity with beautiful women, a subject of much speculation on tennis forums, is “because of who I am as a person.”
Federer “as eye candy.” (No surprise, Marion Bartoli’s quoted on this one!)
Much to the dismay of many female players, Mr. Federer married one of their own in April, former pro Mirka Vavrinec, and is officially off the market. “He was great eye candy,” says France’s Marion Bartoli, who took his picture off her wall after she heard the news.
Tennis players are just like bloggers:
Thirty years ago, just catching a glimpse of players of the opposite sex at the four Grand Slams each year was a thrill. Leslie Allen, a former WTA player who joined the tour in 1977, recalls an early WTA ritual: ranking the male tennis players based on their looks. “We’d choose a captain and a co-captain—we had a whole ranking system,” says Ms. Allen, now a coach at Riverdale Country School in New York.
Forget “Mars vs. Venus”, it’s “Neanderthal vs. Jonas Brother fans”:
“It’s kind of an incestuous world,” says Dr. Mayer (a sports psychologist). When it comes to romance, he says, even the most accomplished male players tend to behave like “neanderthals” and female players like “giggly Jonas Brothers fans.” This often results in “very adolescent” relationships, he says, that last an average of three to four months and tend to have noticeable effects on a player’s performance at various stages.
In the seduction or “wooing” period, Dr. Mayer says, performance generally peaks. Canada’s top player, Frank Dancevic, for example, says he achieved the best result of his life the first time he brought his girlfriend to a tournament in Indianapolis two years ago. “I think I was just trying to show off—I didn’t want to look like a wuss,” says Mr. Dancevic.
As relationships progress, however, things can get complicated. Dr. Mayer says he watched one tour relationship hit the skids after the male player repackaged a watch given to him by a major tour sponsor and sent it to his girlfriend, another pro player, fibbing that he’d bought the watch in Paris—not knowing that his girlfriend had received the same watch from the same sponsor.
Any guesses on who the re-gifter was? URGH! I’m dying to know! The article does mention one cad by name, when Dominika Cibulkova’s coach describes her ex-beau, Gael Monfils, as charming but not “a relationship guy.” We know what that means!
Here’s an audio-visual guide to famous tennis couples (player-on-player and otherwise) – the Roddick photo at the end is priceless!
This calls for a poll!