x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Tennis romances always in bloom with public

Whether it is Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy now, or Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors from way back when, the public loves tennis romances.

Caroline Wozniacki has never won a grand slam, but perhaps fate is about to intervene. Her beau from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy, won golf's US Open in June; maybe she is meant to win the tennis US Open in September.

The public seems fascinated by romances involving tennis players, going back at least to the short-lived Chris Evert/Jimmy Connors engagements (both of them) of the middle 1970s. Perhaps it stems from fans feeling as if they "know" the solitary person out there swatting tennis balls.

Other prominent tennis romances include Evert and John Lloyd, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis and Radek Stepanek, Kim Clijsters and Lleyton Hewitt, and Ana Ivanovic and Fernando Verdasco.

Wozniacki's relationship with McIlroy is a cross-sports pairing, much like that involving Maria Sharapova and the NBA player, Sasha Vujacic.

McIlroy is a more accomplished athlete, however, and Wozniacki is No 1, so New York's personality driven tabloids are likely to keep close tabs on developments, although McIlroy has returned to Europe for a golf tournament after following Wozniacki on tour for the previous two weeks.

Insiders suggest that tennis relationships are increasing because of the rise of events catering to both men and women.

Stepanek told the Wall Street Journal in 2005 that dating a fellow player can be beneficial. "When you have someone next to you who understands the game, it can help in a lot of ways," he said.