Courtside Companions Tennis Stars’ Perfect Matches
What’s more fun than watching tennis pros go head-to-head at Wimbledon? Seeing a player’s significant other watching intently from the stands. From Brooklyn Decker to Sasha Vujacic, see who brings a little extra heat to the game.
Brooklyn Decker & Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick had a somewhat unusual courtship with his wife
Brooklyn Decker. “It’s a very chivalrous story, actually,” Decker joked to David Letterman last year. Roddick was hooked to a football show that the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model hosted on SI.com, and figured the fastest way to woo her was to have his agent cold call hers so the two could meet. Decker thought the professional tennis player was a pretty good catch, so she gave it a shot. They married two years later, and people have been debating who has the better body ever since. Michael Regan / Getty Images; Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Xisca Perello & Rafael Nadal
How does it feel to date the No. 1 tennis player in the world? Just ask Maria Francisca Perello, better known as “Xisca,” the girlfriend of reigning Wimbledon champion
Rafael Nadal. They grew up in the same town on the island of Majorca and started dating long before Rafa became a tennis star, ever since they met at school back in 2005. “I guess a lot of girls will be upset to know the truth,” Toni Nadal told The Daily Mail in 2008, when their “well-kept secret” relationship was confirmed to the public. Although Xisca previously preferred to avoid the limelight and was often absent at his matches, she posed for the media with him and his team at last year’s U.S. Open and cheered him on to win Wimbledon in 2010. Rafa has called Xisca one of the loves of his life—along with his parents and sister.
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images Maria Sharapova & Sasha Vujacic
Maria Sharapova met her match in fellow Eastern European and NBA star Sasha Vujacic, a guard for the New Jersey Nets. The power couple reportedly met at a barbecue in 2009, and Vujacic got down on one knee a year later with a $250,000 diamond ring. “He completely surprised me! I’m so lucky and very much spoiled,” admitted the three-time Grand Slam winner. But Sharapova is in no hurry to walk down the aisle. “We’re still very young,” she said this past fall. Let’s hope Sharapova removes the giant rock from her left hand during matches—it could be a serious distraction during her service toss. Anna Kournikova & Enrique Iglesias
Russian bombshell Anna Kournikova was better known for her long blond braid and cute smile on the tennis court than for her groundstrokes, but her athletic career wasn’t a complete flop; she made it to the third round at the 1997 French Open before losing to then-world No. 1 Martina Hingis, and also made it to the semifinals at Wimbledon that year. But Kournikova was a master of doubles, and in more ways than one. Apparently it was a combination of her skills and good looks that led Spanish pop star Enrique Iglesias to ask her to appear in his 2001 “Escape” video. “She’s beautiful, talented, a great tennis player—I’m sure she’s going to be great in the video,” he told MTV. But the serious heavy petting on screen continued when the cameras stopped rolling. Ten years later, the on-again, off-again couple
still can’t escape their love. David Zalubowski / AP Photo Common & Serena Williams
Serena Williams has dominated women’s tennis for years, and apparently she dominated rapper Common, too (and we’re not just talking about height). Common, 38, confessed on last spring that he wanted to marry the tennis superstar, but they broke up a mere two weeks later. Did Common get served? Serena blamed him for the breakup in an Ellen interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “His schedule is actually worse than mine. He didn’t want the responsibility,” she said. But in January 2011, rumors swirled that they were engaged. When asked to confirm the rumors on the Wendy Williams Show, model Selita Ebanks practically spoiled the news: “I’m [Serena’s] best friend, and I wouldn’t be the best friend if I told you, so I don’t know.” Their relationship hasn’t made headlines since, but who knows: Common may yet appear in the stands at Wimbledon this week. Bec Hewitt & Lleyton Hewitt Lars Baron, Bongarts / Getty Images Sara Foster & Tommy Haas
When Sara Foster first laid eyes on tennis pro Tommy Haas in 2004, as the model-turned-actress was guest-starring on HBO’s
Entourage, she was mesmerized by Haas’ backhand… and his backside. They met several years later through common friends and immediately hit it off. Though their hectic work schedules made it hard for them to get together right away, they kept in touch through email, and Haas proved his moves were just as smooth off the court. “He never crossed the line,” Foster told The Observer. “He was always the perfect gentleman. There was never a ‘Hayyy, send me a pic!’ They’ve been engaged since 2009 and had a child together earlier this year. Julian Finney / Getty Images Mirka Federer & Roger Federer
Everyone knows that Roger Federer is one of the best players in the game of tennis, but few know that, back in the day, his wife, Mirka, was no slouch on the court herself. She played on Switzerland’s team for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where she
shacked up with her future hubby in the Olympic Village. They began dating and played together a year later in the Hopman Cup. A foot injury forced Mirka to retire shortly thereafter, but she stayed involved with the game through Federer, becoming his PR manager. Federer once said of Mirka in an interview, “As long as I wake up and she is next to me, that’s all that matters.” They married in 2009 in Federer’s hometown of Basel, Switzerland. Jarah Mariano & Fernando Verdasco
Fernando Verdasco and Andy Roddick have something else in common besides fierce topspin: swimsuit model partners. Fernando dates Jarah Mariano, a friend of fellow Sports Illustrated model Brooklyn Decker. Mariano has stripped down to barely there bikinis in
several consecutive SI swimsuit issues. Verdasco isn’t afraid to show a little skin either: In 2009, he posed nude for the U.K. edition of Cosmopolitan to raise awareness for the Everyman campaign to fight male cancer.
Stephen Dunn / Getty Images Bridgette Wilson Sampras & Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras is said to have fallen for actress and former Miss Teen USA Bridgette Wilson in 1999, after seeing her in the romantic comedy
Love Stinks. When he saw her in person at an L.A. cinema, he got her number from a friend. Nine months later, they were engaged, and Bridgette Wilson Sampras went from being the hot teacher in Billy Madison to Pete Sampras’ hot wife. “When you win matches, it’s a short-lived high,” Sampras has said of the game. Not so with his marriage, it appears. Kevin Mazur, WireImage / Getty Images Brooke Shields & Andre Agassi
Andre Agassi met his match in fellow tennis pro Steffi Graf (back in the days when he had long hair), he was briefly married to actress Brooke Shields. The relationship didn’t last, but Shields helped Agassi overcome his issues with balding. Agassi’s signature ponytail, it turned out, was fake—and we have Shields to thank for convincing him to throw out the wig and shave his head. Steffi Graf & Andre Agassi
Two years after divorcing Shields, Agassi married Graf, in 2001. It turned out he’d
had a crush on one of the most famous female tennis players of all time for years. They may have duked it out on the court a few times, but 10 years later they’re still going strong. There’s nothing like stiff competition to keep the fire alive.