The stereotype about professional athletes’ wives is they’re not much more than gold-digging arm candy, with few accomplishments of their own. The stereotype no longer applies today, thanks to the efforts of some high-profile women who established themselves well before they married their famous husbands.
Many of the wives of today’s professional athletes are entrepreneurs and business professionals. Some of them have been so successful in their chosen fields they are as famous as their husbands. Sometimes even more so — everyone knows Carrie Underwood but not everyone knows the name of her husband, NHL player Mike Fisher.
What follows is a list of the wives of 10 athletes who’ve made names for themselves as columnists, models, designers and more. They may have married famous men but they may have successful careers ahead of them long after their husbands have retired.
Read ahead to see which wives of professional athletes have made lives, careers and money of their own.
By Daniel Bukszpan
Updated 29 May 2012
Brooklyn Decker is one of today’s most famous and successful models. She has appeared on the cover of the 2010 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, walked the runway in the “Swim” collection by Victoria’s Secret and rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
Decker married pro tennis player Andy Roddick in 2009, and he has his own impressive accomplishments to brag about, including a ball he served on Sept. 24, 2004, that clocked in at a record-breaking 155 miles per hour.
Decker had starring roles in not one but two films that opened on May 18, “Battleship” and “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” The films earned a combined $36 million during opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
In the late 1990s, Spice Girls mania was everywhere. The pop quintet included such personalities as Baby Spice and Ginger Spice, as well as the stylish designer clothes horse Posh Spice, known today as Victoria Beckham. When the group was hot, they sold over 55 million copies of their albums, but as with all things show biz, what goes up must come down, and the group broke up in 2000.
When they disbanded, only Posh was able to successfully transition into another industry, and that was fashion. Today, she designs clothes and has her own line of sunglasses and fragrances. Her fashion line earned over $23 million in the first quarter of 2011 alone, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Her husband, David Beckham, is the English footballer who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Dubbed “Posh and Becks” by the British tabloids, they married in 1999 in Ireland.
Gena Lee Nolin is a model and an actress who got her start as a presenter on “The Price Is Right.” After her stint as one of Barker’s Beauties, she moved on to the show for which she is probably best known — “Baywatch.” She portrayed bad-girl lifeguard Neely Capshaw and appeared in 63 episodes.
In a 2012 interview in Esquire magazine, Nolin recalled the type of paydays that she commanded during her “Baywatch” peak. “When they're giving you $300,000 to lay down and look cute and pretty for a commercial in Korea, you got to just go, ‘Holy c--p, this is unbelievable.’”
Nolin is married to former National Hockey League player Cale Hulse. In his 13-year career, he played for five teams, including the New Jersey Devils, the Calgary Flames and the Nashville Predators. Hulse and Nolin married in 2004 and have two children.
Wayne Gretzky is more than a mere former hockey player. In his 20 years as a professional player he was "the greatest player in the history of the National Hockey League."
Actress Janet Jones has been Gretzky’s wife for 24 years. Although she is not as much of a household name as her husband, she’s been in many films that should be familiar to anybody who’s watched basic cable at one in the morning, such as the 1982 epic “The Beastmaster” and 1992’s “A League of Their Own.”
Stephenie LaGrossa is married to Kyle Kendrick, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. They married in 2010, and one year later they welcomed their first child, Sophia.
LaGrossa was already known before the two became an item, thanks to appearances on the CBS reality show “Survivor.” She appeared on “Survivor: Palau” and achieved runner-up status on “Survivor: Guatemala,” both in 2005. She also appeared on “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” in 2010.
LaGrossa is co-owner of GIGI Restaurant & Lounge in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood.
Brazil’s Adriana Lima has been modeling lingerie as a Victoria’s Secret Angel since 2000, which puts her in the same category as Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks and fellow money-making athlete wife Gisele Bündchen. In May 2011, she appeared on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s top-earning models, which stated that she earned $8 million for a single advertising campaign.
Lima is married to Marko Jari, a basketball player who has been a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies. Jari and Lima were married on Valentine’s Day in 2009 and welcomed a daughter later that year.
Coleen Rooney is married to Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney. Dubbed “Wayleen” in the spirit of Brangelina and Bennifer, the couple married in 2008 after a six-year courtship. They welcomed their first child in 2009.
The former Coleen McLoughlin had already established herself before marrying. She wrote for the celebrity magazine Closer and had her own style column for OK! magazine. She released an exercise DVD and wrote an autobiography called “Welcome to My World.” She has also appeared on the covers of Marie Claire and Vogue.
In 2010, the Daily Mail reported that her personal net worth had been estimated at approximately $16 million.
Yolanthe Sneijder-Cabau was born in 1985 on the island of Ibiza. In 2010 she married Dutch footballer Wesley Sneijder, a midfielder for the Italian team Football Club Internazionale Milano S.p.A.. They were wed in a ceremony in Tuscany in which they wore outfits that The Daily Maildescribed as “hideous” and “ill-fitting.”
Sneijder-Cabau has had a successful acting career in Holland, where she moved with her mother at age 5. She has starred in several Dutch feature films and television shows since 2004, so when she began her relationship with Sneijder in 2009 she was already a celebrity. She was voted “Sexiest Dutch Woman” by Holland’s For Him magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
Lucie Vondráčková is an accomplished singer and actress from the Czech Republic who had an international hit with the pop song "Strach." She released albums all throughout the 1990s and 2000s and found time to star in dozens of Czech television shows and stage productions, including Shakespeare's "Othello" and "Romeo and Juliet," in which she had leading roles.
Vondráčková is married to Tomas Plekanec, a fellow Czech who plays for the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League. In 2010, he signed a $30 million deal to stay with the team for another six years.