Wags, Habs and Wimbledon

IF 2006 is remembered for just one thing, it will probably be as the year when the word "WAG" entered the vernacular. Whether you have been following the football World Cup or not, you can't fail to have noticed the endless pictures of the England team's WAGs (wives and girlfriends) trailing around Baden-Baden with their Twiglet-sized thighs, carting enormous shopping bags from designer boutiques and wearing sunglasses the size of satellite dishes.

But football isn't the only sport with its own legion of WAGs. In Wimbledon, the tennis WAGs and - just as excitingly - HABs (Husbands and Boyfriends) have been appearing courtside, enthusiastically cheering on their beloved other halves with a degree of style. Here, we talk you through some of the tennis circuit's most high-profile WAGs and HABs.


WAG: Steffi Graf

Status: Married, with two children

Courtside Appearance: Serious and sunglassed. Son Jaden and daughter Jaz also often in attendance.

Tell me more: The former world number-one is the uber-WAG of tennis, although for many long-term tennis fans, seeing her in the stands as opposed to on the court still seems an anomaly. Now retired from professional tennis - with her husband soon to follow, following his third-round defeat at the weekend - she dabbles in fashion design. Was seen vociferously cheering on Agassi and choking back the tears during his last on-court appearance at Wimbledon. But will they be back next year as spectators, or even commentators?


WAG: Miroslava 'Mirka' Vavrinec

Status: Longtime girlfriend

Courtside Appearance: Laid back Eurochic - fluffy pink pashminas when it's cold, sophisticated haltertops when the sun shines. Always has an array of high-tech gadgetry with her, and has been known to take pictures of her boyfriend on court with her mobile phone.

Tell me more: A tennis player herself, although now retired owing to a persistent foot injury, Vavrinec met Federer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where they both represented Switzerland. Originally from Slovakia, her family emigrated when she was two. She was discovered at the age of nine by Martina Navratilova, who nursed her career, arranging lessons and providing her with her first racquet. She now works as Federer's agent.


WAG: Bec Cartwright

Status: Married, one child

Courtside appearance: The Paris Hilton of the tennis circuit with her blonde tresses, tanned skin and skimpy tops. Worked the maternity look during her pregnancy with a range of revealing yet accommodating dresses.

Tell me more: The dream-team days of Hewitt and his former love Kim Clijsters are now little more than a distant memory. These two are firmly on the A-list in their native Australia, where Cartwright is a star of the cheesy daytime TV soap Home and Away and a previous incumbent of FHM's Sexiest woman in Australia and New Zealand title. The pair sold pictures of their baby, Mia, along with a series of columns by Cartwright, to a celebrity magazine for what is understood to be an unprecedented Aus$1.5m. She is probably the closest thing to Mrs Beckham that we'll see on the tennis circuit.

In true Aussie style, Cartwright read out a poem at their wedding ceremony (which took place at the Sydney Opera House) that ended with the words: "Stick with me and you'll have a bloody good life!" How romantic.


WAG: Kim Sears

Status: Dating for about a year

Courtside appearance: Pretty, smiley, working this summer's casual jeans with chunky jewellery look. One of the few WAGs who deigns to take off her sunglasses when watching a match.

Tell me more: Despite her telegenic appearance, Sears (the daughter of respected British tennis coach Nigel Sears), is determined not to become Coleen McLoughlin mark two. "It's not about me, it's about Andy," she told the press after she was spotted enjoying a passionate snog with her man following his win over Lleyton Hewitt at the SAP Open in San Jos, California in February. However like McLoughlin, following England's exit from the World Cup, Sears will be comforting her man today, after Murray lost 6-3 6-4 7-6 to Marcos Baghdatis at Wimbledon yesterday. Just 18 years old, she recently finished her A-levels in drama, music and art at the 18,000-a-year Burgess Hill School for Girls in Sussex. Sears has announced that she is taking a gap year in order to accompany Murray to all his internat-ional tournaments during the next 12 months, so expect to see much more of her in the future.


HAB: Brian Lynch

Status: Engaged

Courtside appearance: Goofy, all-American, working this summer's fashionably nerdy look with his tight Aertex T-shirts and slicked-back ginger hair.

Tell me more: Clijsters has evidently moved on from her break-up with Lleyton Hewitt, as smoothly as has Hewitt himself. She hooked up with the American basketball player Lynch, who is based in Clijsters' home town of Bree in Belgium, early last year, after Clijsters' mother met Lynch at a basketball game. Discovering that both her daughter and Lynch owned pet English bulldogs, she put them in touch and they decided to take two-year-old Beauty (Clijsters' dog) and nine-month-old Neo (Lynch's) for a walk together. The couple started dating not long after that and Lynch proposed to her in April. Clijsters has already talked of her desire to have children, and a wedding is expected to take place soon.

Unlike many professional tennis stars, she is happy to talk about her relationship with reporters, recently telling the press: "It clicked from the day we met."


WAG: Martina Hingis

Status: Dating

Courtside appearance: Grumpy, as she's just been knocked out of the tournament herself.

Tell me more: Czech player Stepanek's relationship with the one-time Wimbledon champion is a fairly recent development, only coming to light in May of this year.

The pair have been spotted out and about in Prague, and serious (perhaps too serious) tennis fans have expressed concern over the effect the pair may have on each other's game.

Stepanek is far from Hingis's first sporting partner - she's also been linked with the Arsenal footballer Sol Campbell and the golfer Sergio Garcia, as well as a number of other tennis players. Some unkind tennis bloggers have suggested that Hingis could, to put it politely, "do better".


HAB: Pierre-Yves Hardenne

Status: Married

Courtside appearance: Tall, handsome and chiselled, wears relaxed sporty gear very well. Looks like a tennis player who's wandered off court for a moment.

Tell me more: Another marriage made in tennis heaven - Henin's husband Pierre-Yves Hardenne is also a coach, as well as being her childhood sweetheart. They married in a lavish ceremony in 2002, when she was just 20 years old. She said then: "I know that marriage is not the best thing for my career. But I just did it for myself. I thought it was the right moment for me."

When it came to marriage potentially having a negative impact on her career, however, Henin-Hardenne could not have been more wrong. The very next year she won her first Grand Slam title - the French Open - and then went on to be ranked the world number one. She has now won a total of five Grand Slam titles, including three at the French Open.The couple have a relatively low-profile relationship away from the tennis media glare, and she now attributes her happy marriage to the consistently high level of her game.


HAB: Alexandr Stepanov

Status: Dating

Courtside appearance: Doesn't have one. Her ex, who happens to be her coach, Jens Gerlach, turns up at all her matches instead.

Tell me more: Much like the Russian tennis sensation Anna Kournikova before her, Myskina is dating a hockey player (Kournikova had short-lived marriage to hockey player Sergey Fyodorov). In Myskina's case it is Stepanov, who plays for Dynamo Moscow.

However, Stepanov doesn't appear to accompany her to matches, perhaps because Myskina is still coached by her ex, Gerlach.


Sadly, love on the tennis circuit isn't always easy to find. Here are a few of the Wimbledon stars who this year appear to be flying solo... Maria Sharapova, above, Venus Williams, Amelie Mauresmo, Ivan Ljubicic and Andy Roddick.

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