For some reason the numbers don’t support longevity or success in the sport of tennis once the knot is tied. Maybe having a wife/husband and children begins to sap your time away from the court. You have a baby to take care of, raise them with due attention and time dedicated towards them and maybe sometimes tennis begins to look as though it’s not the most important thing in the world. But then there are extremes in every case. Positives and negative, two sides of a coin, its nature’s rule to counter every good with bad I suppose and so is marriage with a sportsperson’s career. You might feel it’d give you give you a feeling of being settled and that having a family would bring you added happiness to your life but on the flip side it also can act as a distraction. Age shall tick in decreasing terms, your age you always be governed by +1 day every 24hrs, so as it stands time isn’t your friend. You get older, priorities change and inavertedly hammers careers. Recently, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend and fellow Serb Jelena Ristic, telling the world via his Facebook page and Twitter handle.
Well, statistics favor the whole notion of players’ having a downfall after their marriage and numerous examples to back it up too. You have John McEnroe and Lleyton Hewitt who won zero slams after marriage, the likes of Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker who won just one grand slam post marriage. Never mind that at the time they got married, most of them were somewhat past their prime and the inevitable began to happen – younger, stronger and hungrier players were nipping at their heels but the record books don’t bother about that, do they?
But then it’s not all that bad either, there are exceptions to this case too. Andre Agassi won 5 of his 8 grand slams during which he was married twice AND divorced. He won two of those slams at the age of 29 and his last slam at 33 years of age. Justin Henin married Pierre-Yves Hardenne in 2002. After marriage she won seven Grand Slams tournaments, whereas before marriage she could only reach the Wimbledon finals once in 2001. Christ Evert got married to John Lloyd in 1979. She won 10 of her 18 grand-slams after getting married to Lloyd. She went on winning 9 more grand slams in the next seven years. Her last grand slam win was the French Open in the year 1986. A year later she divorced Lloyd.
But the times have changed. It’s no longer just the player, the spouse and the family that is affected by marriages in tennis anymore. The media and the fans somehow have trespassed the whole bond of marriage and present different takes on the matter. When Pete Sampras was still playing, soon after he got married the stories circulated that his wife was the reason he wasn’t winning tournaments. Pete was understandably hurt by such stories because he was forced to defend both his wife and his inability to win the big ones anymore. Recently with similar stories about Roger Federer not being able to contemplate his marriage, kids and his career swirling around, it’s not going to be easy for Novak Djokovic to silence the critics or the media, who always eagerly wait to pull the trigger at the first possible chance. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee that he will never be the same player or will not have the same stature due to his marriage and a future child, but it wouldn’t surprise many if it contributes to a player’s ultimate downfall. There’s no thumb rule which emphasizes guaranteed success or failure in such cases but if history is to be considered, being a Novak Djokovic admirer I’d just to wish him all the best and hope he changes that which seems to be already written.