By always hanging out together at the big tournaments, male and female tennis players understand each other. Some even end up “understanding” to the point of dating for a fling or a lifetime. We present a Top 10 of the most famous mixed doubles in the history of the yellow ball.
André Agassi and Steffi Graf
Definitely THE most famous couple in tennis. The two greatest champions of the ‘90s, they won 30 Grand Slam titles between them. In the spring of 1999, during the gala at the end of the French Open, Agassi and Graf toasted their success as the men’s and women’s champions. Their popularity was then at its peak, the French public loved them and that love inspired the two lovebirds. They officialised their union a few weeks later, when the German had just announced her retirement. A wedding followed in 2001, the birth of a boy and a girl, and more than ten years of quiet happiness together, between professional exhibitions and charity work. The Las Vegas Kid’s antics with his first wife, Brooke Shields, are now definitely consigned to the past.
Roger Federer and Miroslava Vavrinec
We too often forget it, but before becoming Mrs Roger Federer and his strongest supporter in the stands, "Mirka" Vavrinec was a respectable professional tennis player herself, (the proof in pictures below), reaching a career-high ranking of 76 in 2001. It was during the Sydney Olympics, that she first met the Swiss, three years her junior, and became his... agent, an activity that she had in parallel to her sports career. But soon the professional relations gave way to romance, which resulted in a 2009 wedding and the birth of twins the following year.
Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert
July 1974: Jimmy Connors, 21, won his first Wimbledon tournament, just like Chris Evert, 19, an easy winner amongst the ladies. In the wake of these successes, the two Americans announced to the press that they would get married... the following November! Other times, other customs... But the party was finally cancelled when the couple separated, amicably, after only a few weeks. "We were so young,"
said "Chrissie" in an interview in 1978, revealing that it was their first love affair for both of them. The aftermath is happier for Connors, married since 1979 to the playmate Patti McGuire, while Evert on the other hand, racks up failed marriages one after the other. The latest, with the golfer Greg Norman, lasted only 15 months before they separated in 2009.
Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters
Started at the Australian Open in 2000, the relationship between Hewitt and Clijsters was, for long time, seen as an example. The couple seemed to get along perfectly, became engaged in December 2003 and the wedding was planned for February 2005. But in October 2004, the Belgian discovered that her Australian had an affair with a local actress, Rebecca Cartwright. She decided to break up and tell Hewitt ... over the phone. Since then, the tennis player and the actress got married, while Clijsters found the perfect love match with a pro basketball player, with whom she had a daughter in 2008 and is now expecting a second child. Happy end.
Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova
The two Czech champions began their relationship when they were only teenagers in the same training centre, in the east of the country. Both then went on with their pro careers, but the couple endured until... July 2011. A year later, Berdych talked about his new-found love with a girl completely outside of the tennis world. He said he was "very happy
" not to share the daily life of a peer: “It’s difficult enough to deal with it for yourself, so when you are two with the same problems...”
Fernando Verdasco and Ana Ivanovic
On the tour, it's quite obvious that the beautiful Ana Ivanovic has always been highly coveted. No wonder then that a great seducer like Fernando Verdasco – who can also count the Argentine Gisela Dulko, and a host of models and actresses to his list of conquests - decided to enter the battle for her heart. But the romance lasted only a very short while. In January 2009, a few weeks after being seen together in public in the streets of Madrid, Ana and Nando separated. Lately, the Serbian player is dating a certain Mark Stillitano, a close friend of Novak Djokovic. Lucky man.
Radek Stepanek and Nicole Vaidisova
He might not look like it at first sight, but Radek Stepanek is quite the lady-killer. In January 2007, Martina Hingis announced her engagement to the Czech player at a press conference. But a year later, the Swiss Miss was already forgotten and Stepanek started dating his young compatriot Nicole Vaidisova. The ten-year gap was not an obstacle, but Vaidisova's career was. In March 2010, at just 21 years old, she was said to be tired of the tour and announced her retirement. The wedding followed the following summer. Since then, Vaidisova is making her "Vavrinec" with her husband Radek and encourages him from the stands as much as possible. She was in Prague last November when Stepanek sealed victory in the fifth decisive match against Spain to take the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for the Czech Republic.
Carlos Moya and Flavia Pennetta
No prude, Flavia Pennetta gave a no-holds-barred interview for Italian TV in 2009. Yes, she had a relationship with Carlos Moya, as well as with two or three other pros. Yes, she enjoys making love in unusual places, such as a cloakroom for example. And yes, she has a crush on Marat Safin. With regard to her love story with Moya, we found out later that it ended pretty badly in 2007. After three years together, Pennetta, making a surprise visit to her boyfriend during the Sweden Open, caught him in flagrante delicto
. Naughty boy.
Igor Andreev and Maria Kirilenko
On Maria Kirilenko’s official website you can still find in the archives a lovely interview with Igor Andreev, her boyfriend of several years. "I am happy when Maria is
," he said in February 2009. And still on the same website, in December 2010, a portfolio shows the happy couple on holiday in Las Vegas. But, just a year after these beautiful pictures, another picture posted on Twitter shows the beautiful Russian in the arms of another of her compatriots, the hockey player Alex Ovechkin. All things must pass…
Gaël Monfils and Dominika Cibulkova
In the spring of 2008, Monfils was a hit on the tour. He was putting in some stellar performances and pumping himself up... in Slovak. The classic "Go!
" turned into "Ist!”
"It's because of me, I've taught him that
" said his girlfriend at the time, the beautiful Dominika Cibulkova. The couple announced their relationship by playing mixed doubles together at Roland Garros before breaking up shortly afterwards. The Slovak quickly dried her tears by starting a relationship with Jürgen Melzer the following autumn. Quite the marksman this Melzer, since at least three other players appear amongst his "exes": Anastasia Myskina, Nicole Vaidisova and Iveta Benesova. An impressive record...
By Régis Delanoë