In general, romantic relationships aren't easy to maintain, but romances between athletes are often even more challenging. The need to devote long, grueling hours to practice, as well as the necessity of spending extended periods of time apart while on tour, can put an unbearable strain on athlete couples. That the public constantly has their eyes on these sports celebrities doesn't help matters either.
Just ask tennis great Chris Evert. At some point in her life, she was in a relationship with retired tennis stars Vitas Gerulaitis and John Lloyd. She has also been married to and divorced from retired tennis player John Lloyd, retired alpine ski racer Andy Mill, and golfer Greg Norman.
Fortunately, not all sports couples have had it so rough; several athlete romances have managed to keep smelling rosy long after they've blossomed. And while only time can tell whether or not these relationships will continue to remain fresh and maybe even lead to marriage, the world sits back and enjoys the unions while they last.
Here are ten of the richest athlete-athlete romances in the sporting world today:
10 Bryan Caraway and Miesha Tate / Couple’s Net Worth: $400,000
The public usually loves celebrity love affairs, including athlete-athlete relationships. But the romance between UFC fighters Bryan Caraway and Miesha Tate might very well be an exception. In fact, "CaraTate" has been labeled "the most hated couple in MMA". While the tag may seem undeservedly harsh, several incidents have given the public strong reasons not to embrace the pair.
Prior to Miesha Tate's bout with Cat Zingano for TUF 17, Caraway allegedly elbowed Zingano in the head during weigh-ins for the fight. Zingano further alleged that Tate was a conspirator in the attack, which Cat descibed as "dirty and cheap to do to anyone, let alone a girl".
Miesha, meanwhile, has been ridiculed for giving her less-accomplished boyfriend terrible corner advice during Fuel 8, where she encouraged Caraway to "coast" for a victory by decision during a close fight against Takeya Mizugaki. Bryan went on to lose the fight via split decision.
9 Servando Carrasco and Alex Morgan / Couple’s Net Worth: $1.3 Million
Athletes who later become couples usually meet each other when they've already made names for themselves as sportsmen. Footballers Servando Carrasco and Alex Morgan, however, have been together since their days as freshmen at the University of California. Nevertheless, the couple's relationship was tested by their newfound fame when they became professional football players, particularly with Morgan being recognized as the star player of the United States women's football team. Alex shared,
We talked about the attention I was getting and the interviews he was having to do about me, which I can understand would get frustrating. We had that one conversation, and ever since then, it's been fine.
And fate took care of another major concern. The couple was experiencing difficulty having to spend so much time apart since Carrasco was playing in Seattle for the Sounders while Morgan was touring various cities as part of the Women's Professional Soccer league. But the organization eventually folded under, and Alex found herself playing in Seattle for the Sounders Women, thus allowing the couple to spend much more time together.
Servando and Alex were engaged in December of 2013.
8 Andrew Luck and Nicole Pechanec / Couple’s Net Worth: $8.5 Million
When heartthrob Indianapolis Colts quarterback and #1 NFL Draft pick in 2012, Andrew Luck, made it known that he was in a relationship with Nicole Pechanec, the public immediately became interested in who had hooked the prized bachelor. It was soon learned that the young woman, like Andrew, was a star athlete; Nicole was an important member of the Czech national gymnastics team that won the World Championship in 2006 and 2007. Furthermore, she has a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering, Architectural Design from Stanford.
Of course, Andrew is no slouch either, being a two-time Pro Bowler (2012, 2013) and owning several rookie records, including most passing yards in a single game and in a single season by a rookie. Like Pechanec, he also has a degree from Stanford: Architectural Design.
7 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Danica Patrick / Couple’s Net Worth: $16 Million
Car racing is one of those few sports where males and females get to compete against each other on even terms. Even rarer is a couple that are both competing in the same racing organization as first-timers. This was the situation that NASCAR rookies Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick found themselves dealing with in 2013.
Do the sweethearts have off-track squabbles related to their sport? Absolutely. The two have argued about on-track collisions they've been involved in. But Ricky has recently realized that it's best that he always take the blame so that tempers don't flare up and conflicts are resolved quickly. "I learned real quick that if there's a question it could be my fault, it's better to go ahead and just apologize and get it over with," Stenhouse Jr. revealed.
In the end, however, only one could take home home the NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award. Danica finished 27th in the the Cup Standings, while Ricky ended at 19th, earning him the coveted honor.
6 Grigor Dimitrov and Maria Sharapova / Couple’s Net Worth: $31 Million
26-year-old Maria Sharapova, the highest-earning female athlete and owner of a rare career grand slam in tennis, is one of the world's most desired women. Her success and appeal are among the reasons why the public is so intrigued with her relationship with men's tennis up-and-comer Grigor Dimitrov, who at 22 years old is ranked #19 in the world.
Well, the public got a good dose of intrigue before the 2013 Wimbledon Championships when an interviewer reported that Serena Williams had said, "If she wants to be with the guy with a black heart [Dimitrov], go for it." Serena had been previously rumored to be dating Grigor.
Maria responded by saying, "If Serena wants to talk about something personal, she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend who was married, who is getting a divorce, and who has kids." Sharapova was referring to Serena's coach and rumored boyfriend Patrick Mouratoglou. Rawr.
The women have since apologized to each other and put the event behind them. Dimitrov, meanwhile, reports that his relationship with Maria is going great.
5 Kevin Durant and Monica Wright / Couple’s Net Worth: $31.1 Million
In July of 2013, the basketball world was thrilled with reports that OKC Thunder forward and three-time NBA scoring champion (2010-2012) Kevin Durant was engaged to Minnesota Lynx superstar Monica Wright. This was followed by another piece of good news in October when Wright won her second WNBA championship ring, something she could wear with the engagement ring Kevin had given her. Kevin gushed, "I'm glad she's my future wife."
Sadly, in early January of 2014, the couple were reportedly on a break from their relationship, and Monica has been spotted not wearing her engagement ring. Only time will tell what the future holds for this superstar basketball romance.
4 Alex Rodriguez and Torrie Wilson / Couple’s Net Worth: $38 Million
New York Yankees third baseman and three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez is no stranger to romances with female celebrities. He has previously been linked to Madonna, Kate Hudson, and Cameron Diaz. These days, however, A-Rod seems to be getting serious with former WWE Diva and 1998 Miss Galaxy, Torrie Wilson, whom Alex has been dating since December of 2011.
The two tried to keep mum when they were first spotted hitting the gym and going on bike rides together, but they've since opened up about their relationship.
3 Alex Ovechkin and Maria Kirilenko / Couple’s Net Worth: $47 Million
Russian Alex Ovechkin is a two-time World Championships gold medalist who was drafted first during the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He's also the current captain of the Washington Capitals of the NHL. Fellow-Russian Maria Kirlikenko, meanwhile, is a six-time Women's Tennis Association tournament winner who is currently ranked World #20. Together, Alex and Maria are among the mushiest athlete couples on Twitter today.
Here are some of the saccharine posts of the engaged couple:
2 Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy / Couple’s Net Worth: $49.6 Million
When the former World #1s of golf and tennis, Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki, watched the David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko boxing match in Germany on July 2, 2011, they were expecting to see a fierce battle. They found love instead. The pair were reportedly infatuated with each other at first sight and began publicly flirting on Twitter.
As the two welcomed 2014 together by watching the New Year fireworks over Sydney Harbor Bridge, Rory proposed to Caroline. She announced her reply to the world through the following tweet:
1 Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn / Couple’s Net Worth: $81 Million
When 2010 Winter Olympics gold medalist in downhill skiing Lindsey Vonn began dating World #1 golfer Tiger Woods in November of 2013, she knew that she was taking a risk. Tiger's previous marriage had imploded in a barrage of revelations about his infidelity four years before Vonn began seeing the fourteen-time major winner. Lindsey, however, trusts Woods not to cheat on her.
Asked about what makes her confident that Tiger will remain faithful, Vonn replied, "Ah, I don't know. That's kind of a weird question. But ah, I mean, you have to trust the person you're with, and we're happy, and that's all."
The two met at a charity event in April 2012 and became friends before they started dating in November. The public got their first clue that the couple was getting serious with each other when in February of 2013, Lindsey was involved in a terrible crash during the Alpine Ski World Championships in Austria and Tiger sent his private jet to fly Lindsey to a hospital.
Vonn is now a regular companion to Woods when he competes on tour.