March 21, 2013 12:19 pm

The List: Tiger Woods and famous sporting couples

From golf’s Babe and the “Crying Greek” to the Bollywood-esque saga of Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik
Babe Didrikson and George Zaharias©Getty

Babe Didrikson and George Zaharias

Tiger Woods, golf’s most famous player and winner of 14 major titles, revealed this week that he is dating US alpine skier Lindsey Vonn. Jess Cotton revisits some other sporting love matches.

1. Babe Didrikson & George Zaharias

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Olympic track and field gold medallist, golf champion, all-American basketball player, swimmer, fencer - the Texan Babe Didrikson was one of the US’s greatest sportswomen. While competing in a men’s PGA golf tournament in 1938, she met George Zaharias, a 20-stone wrestler, sports promoter and occasional actor known as “The Crying Greek from Cripple Creek,” whom she married in the same year. Zaharias quit wrestling to manage Didrikson, and would trail her progress round the course in his golf cart, blowing smoke rings to show her the direction of the wind and beeping a horn after winning putts.

2. Vera Caslavska & Josef Odlozil

In April 1968, the then reigning Olympic champion gymnast VeraCaslavska joined other prominent Czech dissidents in signing “The Manifesto of 2,000 Words”, a document that repudiating foreign intervention in Czechoslovakia. When the Russian tanks arrived in Prague in August 1968, Caslavska fled to the Jeseniky Mountains in October, rejoining her teammates at the Olympic Games in Mexico City later that year, where she performed floor exercises to the tune of The Mexican Hat Dance and walked away with three gold and two silver medals. A few days later Caslavska married Josef Odlozil, a Czech 1,500-metre runner, in Mexico City Cathedral. The story didn’t have a happy ending. In 1992, a year after the couple divorced, their teenage son, Martin, killed Odlozil in a pub brawl.

3. Debra Searle & Andrew Veal

In 2001, British sportswoman and TV presenter Debra Searle and her management consultant husband Andrew Veal decided to take the 3,000 mile Atlantic Rowing Challenge. Fourteen days in, however, amateur rower Veal developed an accute fear of the ocean and was unable to continue. The couple were disqualified but Searle carried on single-handedly, completing the voyage in 111 days. The couple divorced in 2004.

4. Sania Mirza & Shoaib Malik

In 2008 Pakistan’s then cricket captain Shoaib Malik announced his engagement to India’s highest ranking tennis player, Sania Mirza. The ensuing saga assumed Bollywood-esque proportions as India’s right-wing BJP party advised Mirza to reconsider her decision. Then Ayesha Siddiqui, a woman from Hyderabad, claimed that she had already married Malik in a “telephone wedding” six years earlier. He contended the marriage was null and void on the grounds that the photographs Siddiqui sent prior to the marriage were “false.” A divorce was brokered between Siddiqui and Shoaib a week before his marriage to Mirza in April 2010.

5. Iker Casillas & Sara Carbonero

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and sports presenter Sara Carbonero are, alongside Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Spain’s most talked about couple. At the 2010 World Cup Carbonero, voted the “sexiest reporter in the world” by FHM magazine, caused controversy when she was accused by the press of “distracting” her boyfriend by lingering behind the goalpost during Spain’s 1-0 opening game defeat by Switzerland. “How did you muck that up?” she asked him in a live interview directly after the match. “I don’t know what to say,” he replied. “The locker room is fed up.”

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