Investing so much of your time and energy into a pursuit in order to be the best in the world at something is a fairly unique endeavor known to elite athletes and, well, not many other groups of people.
Given their rigid schedules, strict diets and training regimens, unconventional hours and typically grueling travel demands, there aren't many people who get the life of an elite athlete. Therefore, sometimes the easiest way for an athlete to share their life with someone is to find a mate in their own line of work.
The benefits are fairly self-evident. Two athletes can produce some pretty incredible genetics while understanding the other's odd existence within the public eye. Sometimes, it doesn't work out, but it can be a pretty great thing when it does. Just ask tennis superstars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, who knew one another for years before pairing up and marrying in 2001.
Of course, another tangible benefit when fit, sculpted athletes get together is that they can often give each other a run for their money in the looks department. Here are the top 10 hottest athlete couples of 2015:
10 Sania Mirza & Shoaib Malik
We kick things off with a couple who know a thing or two about life in the limelight. The high profile pair of Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer (and former captain) Shoaib Malik have made headlines for their controversial marriage and some recent divorce rumors, but are still going strong. The good-looking power couple have embraced the spotlight, putting their chemistry on display as contestants on the Indian dance reality show Nach Baliye 5 in 2013. Mirza also recently did some modelling for prominent Indian fashion designer Ritu Pande.
9 Tiger Woods & Lindsey Vonn
If this was a list of most prominent athlete couples, the world's most famous golfer and superstar American skier would be much higher up. But on a hottest athletes list, we have to acknowledge that these two aren't exactly at the peak of their powers. Of course, Tiger Woods has fallen awfully far since an infamous car accident on Thanksgiving in 2009 led to revelations about his extra-marital affairs. Lindsey Vonn's fall was more literal, as ski-related injuries cost her a spot on the US team for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Plus, if we're being completely honest, she isn't quite what she was in the looks department five years ago.
8 Matt & Misty May-Treanor
7 Alex Morgan & Servando Carrasco
I imagine that most would consider soccer's premier couple to be David and Victoria Beckham or Cristiano Ronaldo and whatever starlet he's linked to this week. Perhaps some consideration should be given to the pairing of American sweetheart Alex Morgan and MLS midfielder Servando Carrasco, who got married in a lavish ceremony on New Year's Eve last year. Morgan gained nationwide attention and admiration after serving as a catalyst for Team USA's gold medal at the 2011 World Cup and bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics. Carrasco, meanwhile, hasn't done as well on the pitch as off, bouncing around three clubs in four seasons.
6 Jennie Finch & Casey Daigle
It must get pretty awkward when fans see this baseball-playing pair on the street - and proceed to ask Casey Daigle if he can take a picture of them with his wife, Jennie Finch. It's Finch, after all, who served as the poster girl for the US women's softball team, the team she pitched to gold at the 2004 Summer Olympics and silver at the 2008 Games. Daigle was also a professional pitcher in his own right, albeit one who had just a cup of coffee in the majors over three years with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. No offense to Daigle, who worked hard to make it to the show over 12 years of minor league baseball, but Finch is certainly the star of this duo.
5 Andrew Luck & Nicole Pechanec
As with the previous to entries on the list, this couple is comprised of one star athlete and household name along with their lesser-known but still impressive partner. Here, you have Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and his college sweetheart, Nicole Pechanec. Pechanec, however, is a pretty remarkable talent in her own right, studying architecture at Stanford while captaining the school's gymnastics team. While Luck finished second in voting for the Heisman trophy, Pechanec was earning MVP honors and being awarded the university’s coveted Pam Stathairn Award. Her boyfriend's no slouch, either.
4 Danica Patrick & Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
When the first couple of auto racing go out for an evening on the town, you have to wonder who takes the wheel. Unlike the other couples listed, these two often compete against one another as part of their day jobs, adding a fascinating wrinkle to the relationship and creating some potentially combustible situations. Believe it or not, they've had at least three incidents on the track since they started dating, including a direct collision during a race in Illinois last September. When they're off the track, however, it's pretty easy to see why there's so much buzz about a pair who don't typically finish at the front of the pack.
3 A.J. Feeley & Heather Mitts
Former NFL quarterback A.J. Feeley and US soccer defender Heather Mitts were paired up in 2003 by two of their respective teammates, who also happened to be dating. Mitts recalls that she had no intention of going along with the match-making, but "that changed quickly when I took one look at A.J." Aww, isn't that cute. The duo has been going strong ever since, marrying in 2010 in Cabo San Lucas and having their first child, a baby boy named Connor, in 2014. Feeley doesn't quite boast the same career track record as his three-time Olympic gold medal-winning wife, but both members of this attractive pair clearly won big in choosing their mates.
2 Bode Miller & Morgan Beck Miller
The bad boy of the US ski team has always looked for a challenge, whether it was his five Olympic appearances, attempts to play minor league baseball or his tryout for the 2010 US Open tennis tournament. Bode Miller may have met his match with his wife, sizzling beach volleyball star and model Morgan Beck. While Bode is no slouch in the looks department, Morgan was ranked as the fifth-hottest athlete at the 2012 Olympic Games by Complex.com and starred in her own Nike ad campaign in 2010. The winter and summer Olympic stars will have their first child together this year, a kid that will no doubt be blessed with some pretty good genes.
1 Grigor Dimitrov & Maria Sharapova
These two tennis hotties are an item now after being involved in their own separate, previous athletic trysts. Grigor Dimitrov, nicknamed "Baby Fed" for his similarities to the legendary Roger Federer, had been involved with world No. 1 (and Sharapova rival) Serena Williams, while Maria had previously been engaged to former Los Angeles Laker Sasha Vujacic. The 23-year-old stylish Bulgarian Dimitrov has seen his star on the rise after an impressive 2014 campaign, while the 27-year-old Russian Sharapova remains one of the most famous female athletes in the world for both her looks and her game.