Famous Five: Women tennis stars who have dated other sportsmen – with mixed success

Tennis Features

With Sloane Stephens announcing her marriage to US soccer star Jozy Altidore, we take a look at other women tennis stars who have tried dating men from other sports.

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy/David Lee

For a while, Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki looked like becoming one of the real power-couples in world sport.

They started dating in 2011 and actually got engaged three years later. However, it wasn’t to last.

It got as far as the sending out of wedding invitations, at which point McIlroy had a total freak-out, claiming: “The problem is mine.

“The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realise that I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails.

“I wish Caroline all the happiness she deserves and thank her for the great times we’ve had.”

Wozniacki didn’t appear to linger on the singles market too long, however, and got together with another sporting star soon after golfer McIlroy had been clubbed into touch.

In 2017, the Dane announced her engagement to former NBA champion David Lee and they have since married.

6ft 9ins Lee, who was drafted by New York Knicks in 2005, moved to the Golden State Warriors and played alongside Stephen Curry to claim an NBA title in 2014-15.

This one is still going strong, so maybe Wozniacki gets her happy ending after all.

Ana Ivanovic and Adam Scott/Bastian Schweinsteiger

Ivanovic and Scott had a real on-off relationship at the start of the decade.

They first broke up in 2012 but gave it another chance soon after. However, the same problems persisted and in 2013 they were off again, for good this time.

That problem? Time. With the two of them constantly touring the world in different sports, it was deemed an untenable relationship.

“It was tough when her and I broke-up,” said Scott.

“It wasn’t always easy seeing we both had our respective sporting careers.

“But in the time we had together we had a great time and I really enjoyed her company.

“Ana is an amazing person and an amazing tennis player, too.

“I learned a lot from being in her company.

“We still keep in touch and I guess she’s wondering how I am getting on with my golf, just as I still take an interest in how she is performing.

“But I guess the timing wasn’t right.

“It’s just one of those challenges that every relationship is faced with.

“I feel it’s not easy maintaining any sort of relationship with any lifestyle when both people are travelling to different parts of the world all the time.”

Ivanovic has since found her happily ever-after with football World Cup-winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, with whom she has a child.

They married in 2016 and have collectively been a true poster-child for cross-sport marriages ever since.

Schweinsteiger still plays in the MLS, the same league as Jozy Altidore, for Chicago Fire.

Chris Evert and Greg Norman

Chris Evert and Greg Norman PA

When Chris Evert and Greg Norman got married in 2008 it was heralded as one of the most prestigious sporting romantic connections there has ever been.

Both former world number ones in their sports, they wed in the Bahamas with a guest-list of 100 people at a reported cost of £1.3million.

It didn’t last, of course, and has become one of the most acrimonious splits imaginable.

The marriage failing after just 15 months was all Evert’s fault, according to Greg Norman’s sister but, she would say that, wouldn’t she?

“She became very dominating and controlling and it became very apparent she was treating my brother badly,” she claimed.

“We all saw it, including his friends.

“We all agreed that she did not like the fact that Greg had a higher profile and that she was now taking a back seat.”

Ouch.

Evert herself, though, has a very different take, claiming it was pretty much doomed from the start: “I broke a lot of hearts. I broke Andy’s (Mills, her ex husband of 20 years) heart and I broke my kids’ hearts – and I brought that into my next marriage”.

Maria Sharapova and Sasha Vujacic

Sharapova has had a tough time of it of late, career wise, and her whirlwind romance with basketball star Vujacic wasn’t exactly easy either.

Slovenian Vujacic was a first-round pick for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, playing for them until a 2010 trade to the New Jersey Nets.

It was a move to play in Turkey that seemed to goose his relationship with Sharapova, though.

“It was a really nice period of time for both of us, but, you know, our career schedules just made it extremely difficult to see each other with the travelling, and especially his career move to Turkey,” she said.

“He wasn’t able to travel much. He wasn’t home one time during the 10 months that he was in Turkey, so that made it extremely difficult.”

Elina Svitolina and Reece Topley

Elina Svitolina and Reece Topley PA

Elina Svitolina is currently dating fellow-tennis star Gael Monfils, but she went outside of tennis for her dating before him.

In 2017 she hooked up with English cricketer Reece Topley, although to the press back in Ukraine cricket doesn’t really blip their sporting radar, so they found it a stretch describing it as a celebratory romance.

“It’s good when someone is on the same page of sports and has bad times and good times as well, the same as me in tennis,” Svitolina said at the time.

“We have so many things in common and it is very interesting that in other sports there are so many things we can speak about. It’s good that everything is very clear and you don’t need to explain a million times.”

Perhaps chillingly for Monfils, though, referencing a previous relationship she had had within the tennis world, she added: “It was like non-stop tennis and that’s not my thing. It was too much for me. It was like my head was exploding.”

We are rooting for you, Gael!

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