Just raise your hands if you aren’t interested in learning about the wives and girlfriends of all the sports superstars we follow closely. If you indeed raised your hands (we are watching you), you are probably among the minority (says who?)! If you are a woman and if you have plans for marrying an athlete (celebrity or not), this blog is just for you. All the men reading this post can skip straight to the list unless you are a sportsman.
Wives and Girlfriends of athletes face unique challenges
While it may be glamorous to sit in the stadium while your boyfriend or husband is duking it out in the middle, life is not all roses for wives and girlfriends of top athletes. There are many reasons:
Can you survive the loneliness?
Top athletes are successful because of their ability to work hard on their game and focus on their goals relentlessly. Guess what happens to you when your husband is busy preparing for the next year’s sporting event or tournament? Yes, wives and girlfriends have to deal with shouldering household responsibilities all alone.
Be ready for non-stop travel?
The amount of travel that top athletes have to put up with is insane. A majority of the year is spent in traveling to different corners of the world. If you happen to have children, you can’t pack up the bags and leave whenever you want to.
Can you handle the media glare?
Athletes, especially those at the top of their game, work hard and have incredible mental and physical toughness. They are supremely confident about who they are and look for women who can cope with media glare. You should have loads of self-confidence if you want to survive the pressures of being famous.
But if you do manage to find the right person, things do work out very well. Let’s hear from World Chess Champion, Viswanathan Anand’s wife on her marriage.
With that warning, let’s look at the love stories of 15 top athletes from around the world.
1. Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar needs no introduction as we all know him as a cricketing legend on the same pedestal as greats like
Sachin Tendulkar and his wife, Anjali first met at the airport in Mumbai, when Tendulkar returned from his tour of England in 1990. Anjali was there to receive her mother and bumped into Tendulkar. It was love at first sight! They then met again through a common friend and the rest is history.
When Tendulkar and Anjali first met, Anjali was practicing medicine, while Tendulkar had just started his cricketing career. Later, when they started dating, Anjali made all efforts to brush up her knowledge about the game of cricket. This is one example of a match made in heaven. All the fame and attention has not impacted their life together and they continue to remain a happy couple.
2. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is a Spanish tennis player who is said to be one of the finest clay-court players in the history of the game. Nadal has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, an Olympic Gold medal, and many ATP titles. He also won the Davis Cup for Spain a few times. He is the second player after Andre Agassi to complete the singles Grand Slam.
Maria Francisca Perelló, Nadal’s girlfriend has known him since 2005. They met while growing up in Palma de Majorca, an island off the coast of Spain. Perello has put in a lot of efforts to avoid the things that come with being a celebrity and its status. Perello does not attend many of Rafael’s matches since she does not want to distract him while he is playing tennis. Both Rafael and Perello are shy and lead ordinary lives out of the spotlight.
3. Roger Federer
Roger Federer is is one of the most popular athletes in the world. He has the record of holding the No.1 rank for the longest duration continuously and has won a record 17 Grand Slams and 88 ATP singles tennis titles. Federer happens to be the only male player in history to reach the finals of each Grand Slam at least 5 times!
Roger Federer first met his future wife Mirka Vavrinec at Sydney, during the 2000 summer Olympics. Mirka was also a professional tennis player. The pair travelled to Australia from Switzerland to play tennis and got to know each other that way. They married in the year 2009, and Mirka gave birth to two sets of twins five years apart! Federer and Mirka are happily married and our prediction is they will take their marriage vows seriously.
4. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is said to be the greatest athletes of all time and had won 8 gold medals in swimming, a sport said to be one of the toughest. He dominated the sport of swimming like none, with 39 world records, and 22 Olympic medals.
Michael Phelps is engaged to his on/off girlfriend, former Miss USA, Nicole Johnson. They remained friendly with each other despite numerous breakups in between and rekindled their relationship last year.
5. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic of Serbia is currently the top ranked player in the game of tennis today. He is said to be one of the greatest tennis players in the world and has broken the Nadal-Federer stronghold of the game.
Novak and his wife Jelena Ristic met as teenagers in Belgrade and dated for 9 years, before marrying. They now have a child together. It was instant chemistry since Jelena was an athletic enthusiast and one of the most beautiful girls in the city to boot!
6. Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt of Jamaica is widely regarded as the fastest sprinter ever, in the world. His nick name is Lightning Bolt, and he holds word records in the 100 m, 200 m and 4×100 m relay. He has won several Olympic medals, and has the habit of making it look easy by slowing down at the finish line, but breaking world records by a comfortable margin.
Usain Bolt hasn’t had a steady girlfriend and isn’t married. In the photo above, he is seen with one of his former girlfriends Lubica Slovac. Before Lubica, there was Mizican Evans who dated Usain Bolt for several years. Usain is said to have dated / had affairs with a long list of women and we don’t know if he has a girlfriend as we write this post. All the sordid details can be found here.
7. Rory McIlroy
Who is Rory? Rory McIlroy is a professional golfer from Ireland. He was ranked No. 1 for 95 weeks! He is the first European to win three different majors by the age of 25. At 22 years of age, he became the youngest player to earn 10 million euros in prize money in career earnings. McIlroy has represented Europe, Great Britain and Ireland, so far.
Rory McIlroy had a very public breakup with the Danish professional tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki, and very soon after, hooked up with Erica Stoll, a PGA employee. It is said that McIlroy proposed to Stoll at the Eiffel tower and that they are now engaged. Rory claims that his new relationship has helped him on the golf course, as well.
8. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is only 5’7” in height, but he is one of the most talented footballers in history. Messi is well known for his unstoppable scoring abilities and strikes fear in the heart of the opposing team. He also serves as captain of the Argentinan national football team.
Messi has a long-term partner named Antonella Roccuzzo. Roccuzzo and Messi have been together since 2008 and have two children together. Messi knew Antonella since he was 5 years of age.
9. Christiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese footballer and serves as captain of his national team. He has a very explosive game and is a good striker and defender as well. Cristiano is said to be one of the most rounded players in modern football. He also happens to have the most number of Facebook fans.
He used to date the supermodel Irina Shayk for 5 years but has now recently moved on to a new girlfriend named Claudia Sanchez. Ronaldo met Sanchez at the launch of his new perfume line – pictures were shared of each other on Instagram. He has never publicly revealed the identity of the mother of his son.
10. David Beckham
David Beckham is regarded as one of the most popular soccer players in history, and also happens to be one of the richest! Beckham has represented several clubs and also went on to captain England 59 times. He is the only English player to score in three World Cups.
When David Beckham met Victoria Adams of the popular girl band “Spice Girls” at a charity football match, it was love at first sight. David proposed to Victoria with an expensive diamond sparkler ring. David and Victoria are well-known for appearing at events in matching outfits and have become style icons. They have four children together and their marriage is still going strong!
11. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods dominated the sport of golf like none before him. He has been the one of the highest-paid athletes in the world for many years. Woods was No. 1 for the most consecutive weeks. Woods is considered to be one of the most successful golfers of all time.
Tiger Woods had a fairy tale romance with Elin Nordegren a Swedish model and nanny. After a whirlwind romance, the two got engaged and married in an opulent ceremony. They also had two kids after marriage and things were looking good for the couple. Unfortunately, their marriage unravelled under the glare of the media as it was revealed that Woods was having multiple affairs while he was married. Their marriage ended in divorce.
Woods then dated Lindsey Vonn, a champion skier who also represented the US in the Winter Olympics, for a few years. This relationship also met with a dead end and the pair broke up.
12. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan, the basketball player who played for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA is said to be the greatest athlete that ever lived. His skills, coordination and grace were unmatched. If it were not for Michael Jordan, his signature moves and dunks would not exist. He went on to play baseball and golf competitively after basketball, showing that he was a jack of all trades.
Michael Jordan has a long list of girlfriends and is considered to have influenced Tiger Woods to follow his “path”. He dated Vanessa Williams, Juanita Vanoy, Karla Knafel, Pamela Smith, Kylie Ireland, Lisa Miceli to name a few. You can find the complete list of girlfriends and lovers here.
Michael Jordan married former model Yvette Prieto who is 16 years younger than him, in the year 2014. They met 7 years ago and have identical twin daughters.
13. Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian racing driver who won 3 Formula One world championships. He was among the most dominant and successful Formula One drivers and is said to be the greatest racing driver of all time. He died at the age of 34 years, after succumbing to fatal injuries sustained during a race in Italy.
Ayrton Senna had an ex-wife named Lilian Souza. He married Lilian Souza when she was 19 years of age and divorced two years later. His girlfriend at the time of his death was Adriana Galisteu, who many believed would become his second wife. He dated a lot of women in between. One of the women that Senna dated was Adriane Yamin who was 15 years old! She was chaperoned by her mother on her visits to the track to meet Ayrton. He also dated models like Elle MacPherson and Carol Alt. Adriana Galisteu (see in the picture above) has written a book about her life with Ayrton, and also posed for Playboy.
Pele is widely regarded as the best soccer player in history, with over 1000 goals in 1220 games in his career, and winning the world championship twice for Brazil. He was elected Athlete of the Century by the IOC and Time named him in their list of 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Pele was married to Rosemeri in 1966. They had three children together and divorced in 1982. It is said he fathered a child with his maid, Anizia. He also fathered another child with journalist Lenita Kurtz. He dated Xuxa, the singer who dated Ayrton Senna. Pele then went on to date Flavia Cavalcanti, former Miss Brazil. He then married Assimira, and they had a set of twins. They divorced in 2008. He is now dating Marcia Aoki (seen in the picture above).
15. Muhammed Ali
Muhammed Ali is an American professional boxer, who is widely considered to be the greatest heavyweight boxer in the history of the sport. Ali remains the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion. Ali had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight, epitomized by his catchphrase “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”.
Muhammed Ali married four times and has seven sons and two daughters. Ali has two daughters from extra-marital relationships. his first wife, Sonji Roi was a cocktail waitress, his second wife was Belinda Boyd and his third wife, Victoria Porsche, was an actress and model. His fourth wife, Yolanda Williams (seen in the picture above) was a long time friend of Ali. Some of his children were from extra-marital affairs!