Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki on Tuesday night ended her three-year wait for a grand slam semi-final, and with that she confirmed a great modern phenomenon about love and sports.
The 24-year-old had previously progressed to the last four of a slam in 2011 and was the top ranked player in women’s tennis back then. However, her form progressively declined for the next three years as she first surrendered her number 1 spot and then proceeded to drop out of the top 10.
It marked the first major decline of her career, which ended in the grass court season this year. What coincided with both her decline and resurgence was her three-year relationship with pro-golfer Rory McIlroy.
The two sports stars began dating in 2011 and were all set to get married before McIlroy pulled the plug on their liaison. (FYI, 2014 was the best year of his golfing career to date). The Irishman clinched three of the four majors championships this year and also recaptured the World Number One title after almost two years.
He is now firmly the best active golfer in the world, while she is one match away from contesting a grand slam final and should be back among the top 10 when the new rankings come out next Monday.
Their simultaneous career descent and post-relationship renaissance can't be simply called coincidence. Love and all that comes with it is actually responsible for killing many a promising sports careers or at least accentuating mid-career slumps.
Andre Agassi's failed marriage with Brooke Shields nearly forced him into an early retirement. At one point in their relationship, he had slumped to as low as 141 in ATP rankings, and it was widely believed that his time as an elite tennis player was up.
While there is nothing wrong with tying the knot, an athlete's career span is limited. Moreover, marrying another celebrity brings with it the baggage and media spotlight that not many can bear.