Greatest Husband-Wife Pairings in Sports
Tennis legends Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf top our list of sports’ power couples
By: Mark Ross | 2/25/13, 9:30 AM EST
Although neither Danica Patrick nor Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Sunday's Daytona 500 (they did finish a respectable 8th and 12th), both made plenty of headlines leading up to the race. Besides Patrick making history as the first woman ever to win the Daytona 500 pole, she and Stenhouse Jr. publicly acknowledged that they are dating.
Now while it's entirely too soon to tell if NASCAR's new power couple will ever walk down the aisle, there have been plenty of superstar athletes and sports figures who have said "I do." Which got us thinking, who are the greatest husband-wife pairings in sports today?
For the purpose of this exercise, we tried to identify the “greatest” current married couples across the sports spectrum. While each has been successful in their respective sport, this ranking was determined by looking at their collective body of work.
Although it’s difficult to compare success on the baseball diamond compared to Olympic performances, for example, there’s no debating who tops Athlon Sports’ list as the No. 1 husband-wife duo in all of sports.
1. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf
Married: October 22, 2001
Children: son Jaden Gil and daughter Jaz Elle
With a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles (22 Graf, Agassi 8) and two gold medals, among numerous other accolades and accomplishments, Agassi and Graf are not only the king and queen of the tennis courts, but they are tops among such pairings across the sports spectrum.
Considered among the greatest to ever pick up a racket, both ascended to the No. 1 ranking in tennis at some point in their illustrious careers. In fact, Graf’s mark of 377 total weeks ranked No. 1 is the longest period for any player in tennis history. Graf also is second only to Margaret Court (24) in Grand Slam singles title, while Agassi is tied for eighth among his male peers. In addition to the big wins, this duo has a combined 1,772 career wins, more than 160 career titles, earned more than $50 million in prize money alone and both are members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
2. Nomar Garciaparra and Mia Hamm
Married: November 22, 2003
Children: twin daughters Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline, son Garrett Anthony
Similar to Agassi and Graf, Garciaparra and Hamm enjoyed considerable success in their respective sports. Garciaparra started his major-league baseball career by being named American League Rookie of the Year in 1997. He followed up with two AL batting titles (1999, 2000) and was one of the junior circuit’s most feared hitters when he played in Boston from 1997-2003. Unfortunately, injuries started taking their toll on the sweet-swinging shortstop, who was traded by the Red Sox in a 2004 deadline deal and was never quite the same player the rest of his career. In 14 seasons, Garciaparra was a six-time All-Star who finished with a .313 career batting average. He has remained involved in baseball, serving as an analyst on ESPN for its MLB coverage and its telecasts of the College and Little League World Series.
As good as Garciaparra was on the diamond, however, he can’t compete with his wife’s status as the greatest women’s soccer player in history. A four-time NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina, Hamm’s indelible mark on her sport came as a member of the U.S. women’s national team. For her career, Hamm scored 158 international goals, which is more than any player, male or female, in soccer history. She appeared in 275 international matches, the third-most of any female player, and helped the U.S. team win the Women’s World Cup twice (1991, ’99), along with three Olympic medals – two gold (1996, 2004), one silver (2000). Following her retirement in 2004, Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007, the first year she was eligible.
3. Bart Conner and Nadia Comaneci
Married: April 27, 1996
Children: son Dylan Paul
Another gold-medal winning couple, Conner and Comaneci won a combined seven in their collective careers as gymnasts. A two-time U.S. Olympian, Conner was a member of the gold medal-winning men's gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where he also won an individual gold on the parallel bars. Comaneci is one of the greatest women’s gymnasts of all-time, a winner of five gold and nine combined medals for her native Romania at the 1976 (Montreal) and ’80 (Moscow) Summer Olympics. She secured her place in Olympic history at just 14 years old, when she became the first female gymnast awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event (uneven bars, ‘76). She retired from gymnastics in 1981 and five years after marrying Conner became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2001. Besides raising their son, Dylan Paul, Conner and Comaneci own and operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Okla.
4. Aaron Ross and Sanya Richards-Ross
Married: February 26, 2010
With two Super Bowl rings and four Olympic gold medals, Ross and Richards-Ross have each tasted victory at the highest level in their respective sports. Ross is a cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also helped the New York Giants win Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Richards-Ross has won a total of four gold medals while competing in three different Summer Olympics. Two of these came last summer in London, when she won her third gold medal as a member of the U.S. women’s 4x400m relay team, while also claiming her first individual gold (400m).
5. Bret Hedican and Kristi Yamaguchi
Married: July 8, 2000
Children: daughters Keara Kiyomi and Emma Yoshiko
Hedican played in the NHL for 17 seasons (1991-2009) as a defenseman, appearing in a total of 1,039 games with St. Louis, Vancouver, Florida, Carolina and Anaheim. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and also was a two-time Olympian, playing for the U.S. national team in the 1992 and 2006 winter games. In fact, it was during the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville when Hedican and Yamaguchi, who won gold in women’s figure skating that year, first met. A proponent of early childhood literacy, Yamaguchi also is an accomplished author and was crowned as the champion of the sixth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” when she competed on the reality program in the spring of 2008.
6. Bob Kersee and Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Kersee is a famous and successful track coach, whose roster of athletes he’s trained include Olympic champions Florence Griffith-Joyner, Gail Devers, Allyson Felix, Shawn Crawford, and of course, his wife, Joyner-Kersee. She is a three-time gold medalist and winner of six total Olympic medals from competing in the 1988, ’92 and ’96 Summer Olympics. Joyner-Kersee first won gold in the heptathlon at the 1988 games in Seoul and then again in the ’92 games in Barcelona. She also won the gold medal in the long jump in ’88. Sports Illustrated voted her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
7. Curtis Conway and Laila Ali
Married: July 23, 2007
Children: son Curtis Muhammad and daughter Sydney J., as well as twin sons Cameron and Kelton and daughter Leilani from Conway’s previous marriage
The No. 7 overall pick of the Chicago Bears in the 1993 NFL Draft, Conway played 12 seasons in the pros, posting three 1,000-yard campaigns as a wide receiver. Also playing for San Diego, the New York Jets and San Francisco, he finished with 594 career receptions for 8,230 yards and 52 touchdowns. The daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali went 24-0 in her professional boxing career, which lasted from 1999 to 2007. The championship boxer then embarked on her next career in television, which has been highlighted by a third-place finish on the fourth season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” in the spring of 2007 and co-host of the revival of “American Gladiators.” She also has appeared on commercials and made other guest spots, including on NBC’s “Stars Earn Stripes” last fall.
8. Shelden Williams and Candace Parker
Married: November 13, 2008
Children: daughter Lailaa Nicole
Williams was an All-American at Duke, who finished his college career as the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots. Drafted fifth overall by Atlanta in the 2006 NBA Draft, Williams played for seven different teams during his six seasons in the NBA. He is currently playing overseas in the French League. Parker is one of the most accomplished players in women’s basketball history, as she was a two-time Player of the Year and two-time NCAA champion at Tennessee. The No. 1 overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2008 WNBA Draft, Parker won both Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in her first season. Parker remains a key player for the Sparks and also has won two gold medals (2008, ’12) as a member of the U.S. women’s national team.
9. Matt Treanor and Misty May-Treanor
Married: November 2004
Drafted by Kansas City in the 1994 MLB Draft, Treanor spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues before making it to the majors in 2004 with the Florida Marlins. A catcher, Treanor also played for Detroit, Texas and the Royals and was a member of the Dodgers last season. Treanor is a career .221 hitter with a .989 fielding percentage behind the plate and he was on the Rangers' AL pennant-winning team in 2010. May-Treanor was a two-time women’s volleyball Player of the Year and NCAA champion at Long Beach State. Along with her partner Kerri Walsh, May-Treanor is largely responsible for putting women’s beach volleyball on the map. Together the duo dominated the sport while helping it gain in popularity and notoriety, highlighted by three straight Olympic gold medals. May-Treanor retired from the sport last August, shortly after she and Walsh won their third straight gold medal at the Summer Olympics in London. May-Treanor’s 112 individual championship wins in both domestic and international competition currently stand as the most of any women’s beach volleyball player. May-Treanor, like two other wives on this list, also has appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” her turn coming in the reality program's seventh season in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately, her experience didn’t go as well as Yamaguchi’s or Ali’s, as she ruptured her Achilles tendon during a training session and had to withdraw early from the competition.
10. Casey Daigle and Jennie Finch
Married: January 15, 2005
Children: sons Ace Shane and Diesel Dean, daughter Paisley Faye
A first-round pick (31st overall) of Arizona in the 1999 MLB Draft, Daigle pitched in 33 games in his major-league career for the Diamondbacks and Houston Astros. Like Daigle, Finch also is a former pitcher, one of the most dominant ones in softball history. She was a three-time All-American at Arizona, where she also played first base, and is a two-time recipient of the Honda Sports Award, which is given annually to the best collegiate female athlete in 12 different sports. Finch finished her Wildcats career with 119 wins and 1,028 strikeouts and had her jersey number 27 retired by the school. Finch also pitched for the women’s national team in the 2004 and ’08 Summer Olympics (the last time softball was played in the Olympics), helping the U.S. team win the gold medal in Athens in ’04 and silver in Beijing.
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