At least six former world tennis champions and not fewer than 10 celebrated international cricketers have had failed marriages during the last three decades, a fact that might be sending a few shivers down the spines of both Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza as they prepare to host their much-awaited Valima reception in Lahore today.
While Shoaib Malik divorced his wife Ayesha Siddiqui just days before tying the knot with Sania Mirza, the latter has also experienced a broken engagement with a childhood pal Sohrab Mirza.
The six former world tennis champions who have has split marriages include legends like Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert Lloyd, John McEnroe, Justin Henin, Boris Becker and Andre Agassi, while the international cricketers who have experienced painful break-ups with their partners include the likes of Jeff Thomson, Imran Khan, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Jonty Rhodes, Zaheer Abbas, Mohsin Khan, Muhammad Azharuddin, Graham Thorpe and Sarfraz Nawaz etc.
Bjorn Borg, the five-time Wimbledon champion, had a turbulent relationship with his wife and another first rate tennis ace Mariana Simionescu, before getting a divorce. The disintegration was such a shock for the Swedish player that he suffered a drug overdose and was rumoured to have attempted a suicide. Mariana Simionescu, a Romanian Tennis player, had managed to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1977, a feat that helped her ranked as high as Number 7 by the Women Tennis Association.
Bjorn Borg was also married briefly to the Italian singer Loredana Berte. Andre Agassi, who won eight Grand Slam singles tournaments and an Olympic gold medal in singles, had a rocky two-year marriage with Hollywood actress Brooke Shields, ending in a divorce in 1999.
Agassi later married German World champion Steffi Graf and the couple is living happily since, an inspiration for both Shoaib and Sania though.
Steffi Graf, ranked World No 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association for a record 377 total weeks, had won 22 Grand Slam singles titles during her career.
Boris Becker, a six-time winner of Grand Slam Singles Champion and the youngest-ever winner of the Men’s Singles Title at Wimbledon at the age of 17, was married to Barbara Feltus.
However, Barbara flew to Florida a week later with her two kids and filed a divorce petition. Becker was also engaged to Alessandra Meyer-Wolden for some months in 2008, but the relationship could last only a few months.
Chris Evert Lloyd, a former World Number 1 and winner of 18 Grand Slam Singles championships including a record seven championships at the French Open and a record six championships at the US Open, married thrice in life but none of her nuptials could last long enough.
Chris first divorced a British tennis player John Lloyd, then parted ways with a former American ski racer Andy Mill and then left the star Australian Golfer Greg Norman, who had spent 331 weeks as the world’s number one ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s.
Chris Evert Lloyd, also had a broken an engagement with an American tennis player Jimmy Connors in 1974. John McEnroe, yet another former World No 1 who won seven Grand Slam Singles titles and nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles in his career, divorced famous US actress Tatum O’Neal in 1992 first and then tied the knot with musician Patty Smith in 1997.
Tatum Beatrice is an American actress best known for her film work as a child actress in the 1970s. She remains, at the age of 10, the youngest actor to win a competitive Academy Award.
Justine Henin, the former triple Grand Slam titleholder from Belgium, is also part of the list of most celebrated Tennis Champions ever, who could not pull on with their marriage. Justine Henin had married Pierre-Yves Hardenne in 2002, but the couple separated in early 2010.
Still playing, Henin had won including four French Open titles, one Australian Open title and two US Open titles till date.
Apart from the all-time tennis greats, glamorous cricket stars across the globe have also had turbulent relationships with their partners.
For example former Indian Captain Azharuddin’s first marriage to wife Naureen fell apart after he was struck by a bolt of lightning in the form of former model Sangeeta Bijlani.
Azhar had married Sangeeta after divorcing and leaving Naureen and his two sons by her. The marriage of the finest-ever fielder in the Cricketing World and an accomplished South African batsman Jonty Rhodes with wife Kate also ended after 15 years.
Australian fast bowler Brett Lee divorced his wife Liz Kemp too after months of rumbling. The once-fastest Aussie bowler Jeff Thomson has a history of unsuccessful marriages as well.
World’s finest-ever leg spinner Shane Warne left his wife Simone in 2006, after the woman was not ready to digest her husband’s scandals.
Solid English left-hander Graham Thorpe sought a separation from wife Nicky in 2004, though he still keeps in touch with his children Henry and Amelia.
In 1983, the handsome Pakistani opener Mohsin Khan married Indian actress Reena Roy who was at the pinnacle of her career, though the marriage soon doomed their respective careers.
While the cricketer quit the game to try his hand in acting, Reena Roy moved to Pakistan, leaving the glamor world behind. This marital relationship also could not prove successful and Mohsin divorced Reena eventually.
Similarly, Asian Bradman Zaheer Abbas left his first wife for a Kanpur-based woman Rita alias Samina, whom he had met during the 80’s in England where she was pursuing a course in interior designing.
Sarfraz Nawaz too had left his first wife to marry the late Pakistani actress Nasira, popularly known as Rani. Unfortunately, the Sarfraz-Rani marriage also could not prove a success.