OK! Magazine - 10 January 2002 - Issue 297
Handsome 2001 Wimbledon Champion Goran Ivanisevic
Following rumours of a secret engagement, the tennis ace reveals the truth about his love for Tatjana.
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Tennis star Goran Ivanisevic was the most famous man in Britain after his historic Wimbledon win last July, when he became the first-ever player to win the tournament after entering on wild card as an unseeded player.
The 30-year-old Croatian, dubbed the 'Split personality' due to his temperamental courtside antics, not only became a hero in his native town of Split but soon found himself the toast of tennis fans the world over.
Sadly, for the millions of women clamouring for his attention after his emotional win, the handsome sports star, defeated in three previous Wimbledon finals, already had his beautiful long-term girlfriend - Croatian model Tatjana Dragovic - waiting nervously in the wings back home.
Due to the pressures of travel on their relationship, Tatjana put her modelling career on hold after Goran won Wimbledon title and the couple now live in Tatjana's native Zagreb. Here, enjoying a relaxing boating holiday around the islands of their native Croatia, the happy couple talk exclusively to OK! about their life together and the Romeo and Juliet story behind their romance...
There are several rumours that you are going to get married. Is a wedding on the cards in the not too distant future?
Goran: I hope so. A lot of people get engaged and then break up five days before the wedding but we have a great relationship. I can talk to Tatjana about everything and it's good when you can have a friend who is also your girlfriend.
So you don't know when the big day might be?
Goran: I don't know. It might be next Saturday or it could be in two years. Marriage is only on paper anyway and if you live with someone you love, it's the same thing. It's just one more step to sign the paper. Whenever I feel it, I'll do it. It will have to be the right time.
How did the two of you meet?
Tatjana: Goran called my agency in New York. He left a message and asked me to call him in Long Island, where he was playing in a tournament. I called him and asked him what he wanted but I didn't know who he was!
Didn't things get off to a rather rocky start?
Goran: [laughs] We spoke for a year on the phone and then she called me after Wimbledon 1998 and I said I would call her back in ten minutes and I didn't call her for a month! And then we started talking again and then we met again and that's how it started.
So your relationship was quite a challenge at the start?
Goran: In the beginning it was tough because she was a very proud and stubborn person. It was very hard for me because she didn't understand much about tennis. I always had to explain to her that I had fight all day on the court and that I didn't want to come home and fight with her too. I said to her that I couldn't do it anymore and it was too much. But then she started to understand that our relationship was going to be a little bit different. And now everything is perfect.
There's a Romeo and Juliet side to your relationship...
Tatjana: People are still really angry about the war. It's sad when you see kids who aren't even in school yet saying that they hate Serbs. I was brought up to judge people for who they are, not where they come from.
Is it difficult to conduct a relationship when you are both away from home so often?
Tatjana: Yes. That's why I've decided to put my career on hold because I don't believe you can have a relationship like that forever. It's always been like that with us - I would see him for a few days and then I wouldn't see him for three months. I was working and so was he. I'd be in the Caribbean and he's be in Australia. We'd talk on the phone for hours - our phone bill was huge!
Goran, are you glad that Tatjana has put her career on hold to be with you?
Yes, its a big thing for her. She was doing very well and she put everything on hold, but she can always go back to work. And maybe I'll only play for another one or two years. Everything is a compromise in relationships.
Tatjana, you must find it incredibly difficult to watch Goran's matches, particularly the important ones...
I just can't watch them! I find that I get too emotional. I just get hysterical and sometimes I laugh like I'm crazy or something. I really love tennis but I know what it means to him. It's the whole world to him.
At the beginning we'd fight because I just didn't understand why it was so important to him. I didn't know how he could get so upset about a tennis match because I have different values in my life. But we've been together for three years now and I understand that it all means so much to him - tennis is whole life, his whole childhood and everything.
He really made history at Wimbledon this year but how do you cope when he is not so successful?
I've now realised how much it means to him. He gets really sad when he loses and now I do too.
Did you watch the Wimbledon final?
I did a little bit but not the fifth set. Forget it! I was so glad my friend from New York called me and I spoke to her for hours because I couldn't watch it.
So how did you find out that he had won?
I heard my mom screaming and my brothers and sisters and the whole of Zagerb, where I was. Everyone was beeping their car horns and going nuts! I simply can't describe it because there were so many emotions going through me all at the same time.
You must be very proud...
Oh, yes. I was always proud of him - it's not just because of Wimbledon. I believed in him all the time. Of course it made me proud because it was such an important tournament, but I was always proud of him.
Goran, how supportive has Tatjana been?
She has been very supportive. The three last years have not been perfect for me, and it was tough for her because people said that it was her fault that my career went downhill. But it wasn't because of her, it was because things just happened that way. It wasn't easy but I finally got my moment.
Tatjana, you had some negative press coverage after Goran's win...
I don't know what was going on in the international press because I didn't get a chance to read it but here in Croatia it was unbelievable. I thought they would write more about his success rather than getting involved in his personal life. If I am the right choice or not is nothing to do with his tennis. If it all happened again now I would know how to deal with it, but it was the first time that something like that had ever happened to me.
Have you enjoyed your holdiay together?
Goran: It was great, but one of my engines broke down! It was nice to enjoy time with Tatjana. There was no stress and no one bothered us.
Tatjana: It was really nice. We were on the boat for ten days around the Croatian islands with a couple of our closest friends. We cooked, went fishing and diving and it was really amazing.
Interview by Ali Wick.
Photographs by Tony Ward
Hair and make up by Melissa Walsh.