Love-love: Tennis couples
Fernando Verdasco and Ana Ivanovic
After meeting at the 2008 US Open, Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco and Serbian sensation Ana Ivanovic quietly started dating. They revealed their relationship after Verdasco was seen in Ivanovic's players box at the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar in November.
Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi
When Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf became surprise champions at the 1999 French Open, both were just recently coming off long relationships. After a two-year marriage to Brooke Shields, Agassi's divorce had been finalized in April of that year, and Graf's seven-year relationship with German race car driver Michael Bartels had fizzled.
The two tennis stars danced the traditional champions dance at the winners' ball, and sparks flew. They started dating soon afterward.
Agassi and Graf wed in a private ceremony attended only by their mothers on Oct. 22, 2001. Four days later, their son, Jaden Gil, was born. Daughter Jaz Elle joined the family on Oct. 3, 2003.
Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert
When two of the top American tennis players fell for each other in the 1970s, the American public fell for the couple. Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert coupled up on and off the court, as the two occasionally played mixed doubles together.
Interest in the two peaked at Wimbledon at 1974, when both won the singles championships. At the champions ball, they danced together to "The Girl That I Marry."
Connors and Evert were engaged in 1973, but their relationship fell apart soon afterward. The wedding they had planned for Nov. 8, 1974 was called off. They subsequently became re-engaged, but separated for good in 1976.
Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova
Although they never confirmed a relationship, rumors swirled in 2005 and 2006 that Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova were dating. The two attended a number of parties together and were photographed with one another at the ESPY Pre-Party hosted by Andy Roddick at the Playboy Mansion in July, 2005. Roddick claimed the two were just "Tour buddies," but that didn't stop the speculation.
Lucie Safarova and Tomas Berdych
As young players in the Czech Republic, Lucie Safarova and Tomas Berdych would practice their tennis games together. That friendship grew into a romantic connection, and they have the honor of being one of the longest current tennis relationships among active players. Lucie Safarova and Tomas Berdych have been dating since 2003 and live together in Prostejov when not traveling.
In an interview with an Australian magazine in 2008, Berdych said Safarova was the face he was happiest to see in the stands.
They apparently are in sync on and off the court, as at the 2007 Australian Open both won their matches at virtually the same time.
Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, perhaps that's what drew Maria Sharapova to Novak Djokovic, if rumors of the two briefly dating can be believed. Her presence in Djokovic's players box at the 2007 US Open sparked the speculation, although Djokovic tried to defuse it by pointing out that Robert DeNiro was also in his players box at the time. That the two were later seen singing and dancing out at a nightclub only added to the reports of a budding romance.
Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters
A courtside presence at virtually all of the other's biggest matches, Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters seemed to be a couple that would last. They met in 2000 at the Australian Open after Clijsters' sister requested Hewitt's autograph and were engaged on a boat trip around Sydney Harbor in December of 2003. Marriage, however, was not in the cards for the two. Hewitt and Clijsters separated in October of 2004, and Clijsters revealed the break-up on her website. Rumors focused on Hewitt's omnipresent parents as one of the primary reasons behind the split.
Less than a year later, Hewitt was married to Australian actress Bec Cartwright with a child on the way.
Mariana Simionescu and Bjorn Borg
When Sweden's Bjorn Borg met Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu in 1974, he was on-again and off-again with another tennis player, Helena Anliot. It was Simionescu who captured his attention, however, and the two started dating the following year.
Just a month prior to getting married in 1980, Borg and Simionescu took part in a charity mixed doubles match against John Lloyd and Chris Evert-Lloyd dubbed the "Love Match." The married Lloyds won, 6-4, 6-3.
Both couples' relationships ended in 1984.
Roger Federer and Mirka Vavrinec
While Mirka Vavrinec is most known for being a constant presence by Roger Federer's side and for acting as his manager, she was a former tennis pro as well. Vavrinec started playing at the age of nine at the urging of Martina Navratilova, who sent a racquet to Vavrinec and arranged for her to have her first lesson. Vavrinec moved up through the rankings to become one of the Top 100 by 2000 and earned a spot on Switzerland's Olympic team that year. It was at the Athens Games that she met Federer, and they started dating soon afterwards. An achilles tendon injury subsequently forced Vavrinec to retire from the sport.
Federer and Vavrinec married on April 11, 2009 in Basel, Switzerland. Their first children -- twin girls Charlene Riva and Myla Rose -- were born July 23, 2009.
Ivo Heuberger and Martina Hingis
It's because of relationships like the one she had with Ivo Heuberger that Martina Hingis received the nickname "the black widow." After competing together in The Hopman Cup in 1999, the two had a summer romance. Heuberger, who was the No. 2 ranked player in Switzerland at the time, finished the year at No. 4 in the country. His overall ranking dropped from No. 125 at the beginning of the year to No. 219 at the season's end.
Nicole Vaidisova and Radek Stepanek
Nicole Vaidisova and Radek Stepanek shocked the tennis community by applying for a marriage license with the Manatee County Florida Clerk of Circuit Court on Dec. 10, 2007. Over a year later, the two have denied any engagement but do appear to be dating. There is an 11-year age difference between the two.
Martina Hingis and Radek Stepanek
After reportedly starting a relationship at the 2006 Australian Open, Radek Stepanek proposed to Martina Hingis in Prague after the season finished. Their engagement only came to light at the beginning of 2007. Hingis commented that she was surprised it had taken so long for people to notice her ring. Later that year, an ATP spokesman announced that the two had split "but will remain good friends."
Xavier Malisse and Jennifer Capriati
In 2000 while she was in the midst of trying to make a comeback, Jennifer Capriati began dating Belgium's Xavier Malisse. By the winter of that year, however, the two had split, citing a desire to concentrate on their tennis careers. Within months, both of their rankings had improved. Capriati won the 2001 Australian Open and claimed the No. 1 spot by October.
Jelena Jankovic and Jamie Murray
Showing great chemistry on the court en route to winning the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon in 2007, Jelena Jankovic and Jamie Murray set tongues wagging about whether or that connection was continued off the court. The on-court partnership was instigated by Murray, and his persistent inquiries as to her availability in the tournament finally paid off. Neither ever confirmed a relationship, however.
Maria Kirilenko and Igor Andreev
Maria Kirilenko and boyfriend Igor Andreev had big goals heading into the 2010 Australian Open. The Russians felt their hard work could pay off with early upsets, improved rankings and a strong Slam performance. While Kirilenko knocked off former champion Maria Sharapova in the first round, Andreev couldn't pull off a similar upset and lost in the first round to Roger Federer.
Gael Monfils and Dominika Cibulkova
After starting to date in Miami early in the 2008 season, Gael Monfils and Dominika Cibulkova made frequent attempts to support the other by attending matches. The 6'4'' Monfils and 5' 3 1/2'' Cibulkova even played mixed doubles together at the French Open. That tournament marked the end of their relationship, however, as they broke up shortly afteward.
Andy Roddick and Ashley Harkleroad
After meeting in Florida while both were playing on the junior circuits, Andy Roddick and Ashley Harkleroad started dating in 1998 when Roddick was 16 and Harkleroad was 13. They remained childhood sweethearts for two years. The same year they broke up, both turned pro.
Martina Hingis and Magnus Norman
Enjoying the best year of his professional tennis career, having earned runner-up status at the 2001 French Open and earning the No. 2 ranking in the world, Swedish tennis player Magnus Norman began dating Martina Hingis. They broke up later that season. Norman never won another singles title after that year. He had been able to come back after undergoing corrective surgery for a heart valve condition in 1998, but he was not able to rebound from nagging hip and knee injuries that began to trouble him in 2001. He retired in 2004.
Jurgen Melzer and Nicole Vaidisova
Austrian tennis player Jurgen Melzer and Czech competitor Nicole Vaidisova reportedly dated briefly, but neither ever spoke specifically about the relationship. They have since moved on to more serious relationships.
Chris Evert and John Lloyd
When Chris Evert, who was the world's No. 1 female player at the time, met John Lloyd, a shy Brit with a career-high ranking of 21st, at the All England Club in 1978, opposites attracted. They married a year later and were embraced as the golden couple of tennis by the media. After a few years of marriage, a separation and a short-lived reconciliation, Evert and Lloyd divorced in 1987. Despite being offered lots of money from British tabloids looking for Lloyd to trash his former wife, he never spoke out about difficulties in their marriage.
Gisela Dulko and Fernando Verdasco
Prior to moving on to a different Fernando (Gonzalez, her current boyfriend), Gisela Dulko dated Fernando Verdasco.
Jaslyn Hewitt and Joachim Johansson
Sweden's Joachim Johansson dated Jaslyn Hewitt, Lleyton's sister and a former tennis player herself, for five years before the two broke up. Before they split, however, Jaslyn had a tough time when the two men in her life played in the semifinals of the 2004 US Open. When asked for whom she would be rooting, Johansson said "She can pick the boyfriend, but she can't pick the brother, so she's going to be going for me for sure." Lleyton won.
Gisela Dulko and Fernando Gonzalez
They may have lost in the quarterfinals of the mixed doubles tournament at the 2006 French Open, but the relationship between Argentina's Gisela Dulko and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez that on-court partnership sparked has lasted much longer. In the few times they have broken their silence about their coupling, both have professed to be extremely happy.
Alize Cornet and Gael Monfils
Even though French tennis players Alize Cornet and Gael Monfils broke up in 2006, they continue to be good friends and often are practice partners.
Jurgen Melzer and Anastasia Myskina
Notoriously private about her relationships, Anastasia Myskina said fellow tennis player Jurgen Melzer was a "good friend of mine, nothing more." Photos of the two looking very close cropped up late in 2006, however.
Dominika Cibulkova and Jurgen Melzer
Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova and Austria's Jurgen Melzer were outed as a couple when personal photos the two had taken of them swimming and snorkeling on their vacation in the Maldives were picked up and spread on the internet. It is rumored they started dating after teaming up together to play mixed doubles in the 2008 US Open, where they lost in the first round.
Helena Anliot and Bjorn Borg
When Bjorn Borg made his Wimbledon debut in 1973 at the age of 17, he was mobbed by screaming girls, who even ran onto the court to touch him. To try to discourage their attention, he announced that he had a girlfriend, fellow Swede Helena Anliot. Anliot was the Swedish junior national champion. The two had an on-again, off-again relationship until Borg met Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu and fell for her.
Chuck Adams and Ashley Harkleroad
Just weeks after Ashley Harkleroad's eight-page spread in Playboy was revealed, she and her fiancee/coach Chuck Adams revealed something else. Harkleroad skipped the 2008 US Open because she was pregnant with the couple's first child. Adams used to play on the Tour.
Martina Hingis and Julian Alonso
When Julian Alonso started dating Martina Hingis in the summer of 1998, he was ranked No. 30 and climbing. He also was riding high after being named the ATP Newcomer of the Year the previous season. Their relationship fizzled after a short time, and so did his professional tennis career. Alonso finished the 1998 season ranked No. 106 and left the sport completely by 2001 with a chronic back ailment plaguing him.
Chris Evert and Vitas Gerulaitis
Chris Evert and Vitas Gerulaitis dated briefly in the winter of 1976. After Gerulaitis' accidental death due to carbon monoxide poisoning in 1994 at the age of 40, Evert honored his memory by setting up the Vitas Gerulaitis Memorial Scholarships.
Jelena Dokic and Tommy Robredo
In 2001, when Tommy Robredo and Jelena Dokic joined tennis legend Guillermo Vilas for a kids' clinic at the Idea Prokom Open in Poland, rumors circulated that the two were dating. Dokic has always insisted he was "just a friend," but the two seemed very close for awhile.
Justin Gimelstob and Martina Hingis
Early in Justin Gimelstob's professional tennis career, the promising US prospect began dating Switzerland's Martina Hingis, who already had one Grand Slam singles title and two Grand Slam doubles titles to her name. Though their relationship spanned just a short period of time during the summer of 1997, it was long enough for Gimelstob to be affected by Hingis' so-called curse. When they broke up, his ranking fell from within the Top 100 to No. 138, and he suffered chronic back injuries throughout his career.
Gisela Dulko and Tommy Robredo
For a year-long period in 2005 and 2006, Spain's Tommy Robredo and Argentina's Gisela Dulko dated, but their relationship was not fated to last. Robredo confirmed the split on his official ATP Tour blog on May 15, writing "As you might know I broke up with Gisela Dulko, who I dated for one year. Tonight I am going to try to arrange a dinner with the Brazilian girls we met last night. I like being in good company!"
Alex Bogomolov Jr. and Ashley Harkleroad
In December of 2004, when American tennis player Ashley Harkleroad was just 19 years old, she married fellow tennis pro Alex Bogomolov, Jr. and decided to retire from tennis. The retirement lasted just six months, and the marriage lasted just two years. They divorced in October of 2006. Harkleroad claimed the marriage was a result of both her defiant streak and her traditional upbringing in Georgia, as she was tired of hearing people say that she was living in sin.
Shan Jiang and Li Na
The life of a tennis player can be a lonely one with all of the travel they have to do, but China's Li Na is fortunate that her husband, Shan Jiang, is always with her. A former tennis professional himself, he now acts as her coach. They were married on Jan. 27, 2006.