McIlroy/Wozniacki: The Differing Fortunes of Sport's Golden Couple
When Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki first got together in July 2011 they were hailed as sport's next golden couple, with a future full of success in front of them. After meeting at David Haye's fight against Wladimir Klitschko in Germany and wasting no time in getting together, they have faced the challenge of keeping their respective sporting careers on the right track while maintaining their relationship.
The golfer, though, has managed to do this far more successfully than his glamorous girlfriend, and in this article I will look at their respective fortunes both on and off the field of play.
When they first got together in July 2011 they were both enjoying periods of sustained success in the upper echelons of the world rankings, but Wozniacki had the upper hand in this category. She was currently in the middle of enjoying a 67-week run at the top of the world rankings, while McIlroy had yet to reach the top of the world rankings despite a number of high profile successes, including his first Major victory.
However, since the beginning of their relationship she has slid down the rankings, at one stage falling out of the Top 10 completely. She has only regained her place in the Top 10 in the last couple of weeks.
McIlroy, though, has taken his place at the top of the tree. After three short reigns during which the top spot pendulum swung between himself and Luke Donald, he regained the top spot in the middle of August and has yet to relinquish it. If he carries on playing the way he has, it could be a while before anyone topples him.
This category sees yet another victory for the golfer.
At the start of their relationship, McIlroy had already won his first major trophy. Weeks after a spectacular collapse in the final round of the Masters, where he relinquished a four-shot lead to finish down in 15th place, the Irishman banished his demons to finish miles ahead of the field and claim the US Open. Since then, he has continued to challenge for the top prizes and doubled his tally of major victories with a comprehensive win at the final major of 2012. Still only 23 years of age with potentially another 20 years at the top of the game, a man of his talent should be aiming for double figures.
Wozniacki has enjoyed very little success in the Grand Slams throughout her career. Her best performance was a run to the final of the US Open in 2009 where she lost to the returning Kim Clijsters. Her results in 2012 show no encouraging signs that she might be about to break through at the top level. After a respectable performance in the Australian Open where she reached the quarter final, she was then knocked out of the French Open in the third round before suffering dismal first-round losses at both Wimbledon and the US Open.
For all the criticism Wozniacki has faced over the course of her career, what cannot be denied is that she has churned out the victories on an impressive scale. During the best period of her career so far she won six titles in 2010 and a further six in 2011. However, after winning in New Haven in August of that year it was then over 12 months before she would win another, finally breaking the streak in late September. Her victories are significantly down, with only two in total for the calendar year.
After a slow start to 2012, McIlroy has won four competitions in the calendar year. He won the Honda Classic in March, followed this up with his second major victory, and then added two more victories in September. He also matched the achievement of Luke Donald by winning the money list prizes on both the US Tour and the European Tour
The one area where it is hard to split McIlroy and Wozniacki is their off the field earnings. Both of them make an absolute fortune from their various endorsements.
Wozniack, with her girl-next-door looks, has had companies lining up to get her to represent their products. She has a long association with Adidas and was voted the ninth most marketable athlete in the world in 2011, and was the second-highest-earning female athlete in 2011.
McIlroy is probably not quite at the same status just yet, though he has recently signed a massive 10-year deal with Nike which will see him net $125 million over the next 10 years.
Ultimately the better an athlete is, the more marketable he or she is, and with their current level of success and fame the pair of them seem set to keep raking in the money over the next decade.
The future is very bright for sports' golden couple.
McIlroy has at least another 30 years at the top of the game. Anything is possible for the most prodigiously talented golfer of his generation. Every record that stands could potentially could be well within his reach, and in the future when people talk about him he will be mentioned in the same breath as players such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Steve Ballesteros.
The future for Wozniacki is a trickier proposition. Many observers would perhaps say she might have peaked already and is on a downward spiral. Her results in 2012 have been inconsistent at best. However, over the past couple of months it has appeared that the green shoots of recovery could be sprouting. I have no doubts that she will at some point break her Grand Slam streak. She is too talented not to.