Tennis giants tied in a knot: Did their lady-love bring them luck?

Author : Monika Shukla

It is said that there’s a woman behind every successful man. Does the same apply on the tennis court as well? Let’s find out if marriage was as enriching to the games of these big names in the world of tennis as it was to their personal life (or not).

Here is an analysis of five players’ careers after they tied the knot with their lady-love (luck).

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi With His Ex- Girlfriend Brooke Shields

Andre Agassi With His Ex- Girlfriend Brooke Shields

Andre Agassi turned pro tennis player at the age of 16 in 1986. Agassi won his first major Grand Slam title at Wimbledon 1992. Agassi silenced his critics with this major win.

After this major win, Agassi had won several other major titles in early 1990s. He hogged the limelight in U.S. Open 1994. He grabbed the Australian Open in 1995, which helped him climb the ladder of ranking that year. Being at his peak, Agassi won the gold medal at the 1996 summer Olympics at Atlanta, Georgia.

The charismatic Agassi married actress Brooke Shields in 1997, for whom he wasn’t sure initially but eventually he went with the idea of marriage and tied the knot.

In the year 1997, Agassi went through a rough phase. He faced complexities professionally and personally. He was unsuccessful to win any tournament in that year. His ranking was knocked down as low as to 141. Agassi tested positive for drugs in 1997. He was introduced to crystal meth by a friend, according to reports and his autobiography—Open. He claimed that his drug use was purely accidental. He told the Association of Tennis Professionals that he unknowingly drank his friend’s drink.

It was believed that his career was over. However, Agassi turned his career up-side-down, with a massive comeback in 1999. He won two Grand Slam tournaments—the French Open and the U.S. Open in the year 1999.

Agassi divorced his wife in nearly two years of marriage with—Brooke Shields and continued focusing on his career giving hits continuously. He won major Australian Open titles in the year 2000, 2001 and 2003.

Back problems and other health issues forced Agassi to discontinue his professional tennis. He lost one more Grand Slam title and on September 4, 2006, he played his last professional match and bid good-bye to his fans across the world.

John McEnroe

 John McEnroe with his wife, actress Tatum O'Neal

John McEnroe with his wife, actress Tatum O’Neal

John McEnroe, often referred to as ‘McBrat’ by the media, married Tatum O’Neal in 1986 during his sabbatical from professional lawn-tennis. When he returned from his break, he won three ATP tournaments but failed to grab any major Grand Slam victories then and in the later stages of his career.

1987 was his first year when he was without a major title win under his belt since he had turned pro. He lost two straight set quarterfinals to Ivan Lendl at U.S. Open in 1987 and Australian Open in 1989.

He also lost a two day long match to Lendl in the fourth round of 1988 French Open. Following the US Open of 1987 where he was suspended for two months and fined US$ 17,500 for misconduct, McEnroe took a seven month break from the game.

In 1990, Pete Sampras beat McEnroe in the semi-finals of US Open in a four set game of 6-2 6-4 3-6 6-3. 22nd October, 1990 marked the last time when McEnroe would be seen in the top ten seeds. He was ranked 9th at that time.

In 1991, he lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon to Edberg whom he had also lost a semi-final match to in 1989 at Wimbledon and the third round at US Open to Michael Chang.

In the third round of Australian Open in 1992, McEnroe defeated Boris Becker 6–4, 6–3, 7–5, who was ranked 3rd then and was also the defending champion, but he was defeated by Wayne Ferreira in the quarterfinals. The same year, McEnroe lost straight sets to Andre Agassi in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.

Although he was accepted in an interview in 2000 that during his second spell after the break, he had started taking drugs like cocaine but argues that it never affected his game. He divorced his wife Tatum O’Neal, daughter of actor Ryan O’Neal, in 1994 and married musician Patty Smyth in 1997.

John McEnroe retired from professional tennis in 1992 ranked 20th

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras and his wife Bridgette Wilson

Pete Sampras and his wife Bridgette Wilson

Pete Sampras turned pro in the year 1988 and won 14 Grand Slams until he retired in 2002. He became the first player to surpass Roy Emerson’s record of 12 grand slams. On September 30, 2000, Sampras married American actress Bridgette Wilson.

Just before he tied the knot with former Miss Teen USA, Sampras lost the semi-finals at Australian Open in early 2000 to Andre Agassi and won his 13th Grand Slam at Wimbledon. Post his marriage, he lost the US Open title to Marat Safin in 2000 and in straight sets to Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.

In 2001, he lost at Wimbledon in the fourth round to Roger Federer (6–7(7), 7–5, 4–6, 7–6(2), 5–7), who didn’t win any of the grand slams until Sampras’ 14th and last grand slam victory.

Sampras didn’t have a good start in 2002 with an early defeat in the 2nd round at Wimbledon against George Bastl, who was ranked 145th. Later the same year, Sampras went on the claim the US Open title. He defeated Andre Agassi 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 clinching his 14th grand slam title, a record that remained unbeaten until Roger Federer claimed his 15th title at the 2009 Wimbledon Championship against Andy Roddick. At the end of this tour, Sampras was ranked 13th.

Sampras didn’t play any tours for the next 12 months after his US Open victory, but he officially announced his retirement on August 2003.

Bjorn Borg

Bjorn Borg with the Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu

Bjorn Borg with the Romanian tennis player Mariana Simionescu

One of the greatest tennis player from Sweden —Bjorn Borg won total 11 Grand Slam singles title from the year 1974 to 1981. He is regarded as one of the greatest legend in the history, as he won five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles and six French Open singles titles.

Borg exchanged his vows with tennis pro Mariana Simionescu in Bucharest on July 24, 1980.

In 1981, Borg won his career’s last Grand Slam title in French Open. He defeated Lendl in five-set match. John McEnroe defeated Borg—6-4, 6-7 (1-7), 6-7 (4-7), 4-6—at Wimbledon in the same year. Thereafter, Borg kept on losing in further Grand Slams. McEnroe again overpowered him in U.S. Open—6-4, 2-6, 4-6, 3-6.

U.S. Open 1981 was Borg’s last Grand Slam final. Where, after his defeat he walked off the court and stadium, without attending the ceremonies and press conference.

Borg announced his retirement in 1983 at a young age of 26. His decision baffled the whole world.

Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert

Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert

Jimmy Connors won eight Grand Slam singles’ titles. He turned pro in 1972. He was the first male player to be ranked no.1 for more than five years in total. In 1974, Connors was the leading player. He had a 99-4 record that year and won three out of four Grand Slam singles tournaments. Connors is one of of six men who won three or more Grand Slams in a calendar year.

Connors was engaged with fellow tennis pro, Chris Evert in 1974. Their relationship didn’t transform into marriage as they broke off in 1975 just before Wimbledon championship. He married playboy model, Patti McGuire in 1979. They have two children together.

Connor’s performance had a downfall from 1979 to 1981. Where he was knocked out in semi’s in eight out of nine Grand Slam tournaments he played. His main rivals included, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg.

John McEnroe defeated Connors in 1979, U.S Open—6-3, 6-3, 7-5 and in 1980, U.S Open in a thrilling five set match—6-4, 5-7, 0-6, 6-3, 7-6.

Bjorn Borg crushed Connors in 1981, Wimbledon and U.S. Open with hard-hitting struggle, scoring—(0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4) and (6-2, 7-5, 6-4) respectively.

It was only in 1982, Connors came back to his leading position by winning two major titles—Wimbledon and U.S. Open. His comeback was much appreciated by the critics. In 1983, U.S. Open, he won his last Grand Slam singles title of his career.

Connors retired in 1996. Thereafter, he worked as a commentator and coach to tennis pros like Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova.


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