The 14th of February is celebrated worldwide as Valentine’s Day. Flowers, Candy, and gifts are exchanged across the world between loved ones on the day as people celebrate romantic love, admiration and friendship. And this includes Indian athletes as well. As the world immerses itself in the festival of love, let’s have a look at five of the most adorable Indian sports couples:
1. Dinesh Karthik-Dipika Pallikal: “Everything happens for a reason”
Let’s start by giving some hope to all the singles and heart brokens out there. You will find ‘the Perfect match’ one day. Here’s why…
Dinesh Karthik was married to his childhood friend Nikita Vanjara. However, things took a turn for worse when he found his wife was having an affair with his Tamil Nadu and National teammate Murali Vijay. He broke the wedding in 2012, five years into the marriage.
In 2013, Karthik met Indian squash player Dipika Pallikal at a gym in Chennai. But unlike your typical love story, this was not your typical ‘Love at first sight’. Dipika was not a fan of cricketers at the time.
“If I remember, I left for practice without even saying bye to him,” she remembers. They were training under the same coach- Basu. Slowly they got to know each other, and with a humble and family-guy attitude, Karthik won her over.
“It was February 2013, and I had just won a tournament in Canada while Dinesh was playing domestic cricket in India. I went to Leeds (England) to train for a week and I found him there, coming all the way to see me.” It was at that moment she fell for him. She adds “He used to watch me train at the academy and even tried his hand at squash. He played much better than I thought.”
Towards the end of the year, team India won the Champions Trophy in England. Karthik doubled the celebrations by proposing the lady of his dreams. The duo publicly announced their relationship to the world through their engagement ceremony in Chennai.
They had two marriages, one in Christian and other in Hindu style on 18th August and 20th August 2015.
2. Sania Nehwal Parupalli Kashyap: ‘badminton.com’
A classic love story. Divided by the community, matched by badminton.
Parupalli Kashyap and Saina Nehwal met as kids at the badminton class. They soon became friends and were friends throughout childhood. They used to warm up on the court and feed shuttles to each other in training.
Soon, the friendship blossomed into something more once they started spending more and more time together. In the initial years, it was just conversations about the game. But with time the friendship became deeper. The childish competitiveness went away. Parupalli soon noticed her getting irritated whenever he used to lose.
“She would get angry like my mom,” Kashyap said in an interaction with Scroll. “She would only tell me that you have to work hard. If I am getting carried away with friends and other things, she would tell me to stay focused and work hard.”
After realising they wanted to spend their lives with each other, there was one difference left to settle- culture. Parupalli was from Haryana, while Nehwal is from Hyderabad. The power-badminton couple had to hide that relationship in social circles. Finally, the couple tied the knot in a private ceremony on 14th December 2018.
3. Sunil Chhetri-Sonam Bhattacharya: “The biggest fan”
Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri’s first fan was his wife- Sonam Bhattacharya at the age of 18. Chhetri used to train with Former National footballer and Mohan Bahan great Subrata Bhattacharya. Incidentally, Subrata was Sonam’s father, who used to “specially mention this guy called ‘Chhetri’ to her.”
Curiosity rang in Sonam’s mind, as she stole Chhetri’s number and texted him, saying: “‘Hi! I’m Sonam and I’m a big fan, I want to meet you.” Not knowing about the relationship she shared with Chhetri’s coach, he decided to meet her. But Chhetri met his future wife the first time when she was 15.
Realising the age gap between them, he said to her, “You’re a kid, go study,” before walking off like a gentleman. However, the two did not stop texting each other. After two months, Chhetri was helping his coach to fix his phone and that is when he found out that Sonam was Subrata’s daughter.
Fearing the end of his career, he called her up to cut all ties with each other, “She apologised for not telling the truth, but I wouldn’t have any of it,” Human’s of Bombay quoted the Indian skipper. However, soon the two of them started to meet again.
“We had to be really careful and couldn’t let anybody know. I used to travel a lot so we’d only meet twice or thrice a year. I remember I used to go to the cinema, buy two tickets — and leave one on her name at the counter. I’d enter first and she’d enter 10 minutes after me”.
Chhetri and Sonam’s relationship stood the hardest test- the test of time, before becoming stronger. After a 13 year relationship, and a nod of approval from Sonam’s father, the lovely couple married on 4 December 2017. Sonam is, as she would describe it, ‘Chhetri’s biggest fan’, who was there when he was a nobody till he became a legend, and beyond!!
4. Rohit Sharma-Ritika Sajdeh: “Ek Ladka Aur Ladki Kabhi Dost Nahi Ho Sakte …”
“The best relationships start out as friendships.” This holds true for the love story of Rohit Sharma and his wife Ritika Sajdeh. After completing her education, Ritika joined her cousin’s company – Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment – as a sports manager.
However, before their friendship began, Sharma and Ritika were just two professionals at a Reebok Shoot in 2008. Her ‘Rakhi Brother’, Yuvraj Singh had introduced them to each other.
During the Breakfast with Champions, Sharma revealed, “It’s a funny story. I was 20 years old, and it was a shoot that we were doing. I had no idea what was going on, so I reached the venue. Yuvi and Irfan were also there. I met Yuvi in his trailer since he was a senior player, and Ritika was sitting in his trailer.”
Yuvraj warned him not to speak with her since she was his sister. “So throughout the shoot, I was annoyed with her. I thought how come she has so much pride,” he said. However, soon it was time to take his shot.
“I didn’t know what to speak. I had some dialogues to say, which I tried to say, and it all went fine,” he remembers. “But then the director came and said that my mic wasn’t on, so we’ll have to record everything again.”
“Between the shots, I went down and Ritika was there.”
And she offered him help. That his how it started. She soon became his manager. Both of them used to meet for work and soon became good friends. Their friendship grew, and they fell in love.
They dated for six years before Rohit proposed to her at the Borivali Sports Club where he began his career. Rohit Sharma married Ritika on 13 December 2015 in a lavish wedding. After 3 years in wedlock, the couple was blessed with a baby girl on 30 December 2018 and named her Samaira.
Both Samaira and Ritika Sajdeh are seen encouraging Rohit from the stands in various matches for both India and Mumbai Indians.
5. Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma: “When cricket met Bollywood, as usual!”
Sparks fired, and their chemistry in the advertisements fuelled to the rumours. Soon visits to each other’s workplace started with Anuskha in New Zealand and Virat in Sri Lanka (shoot of Bombay Velvet.
The reports of their affair were confirmed by Kohli himself, who blew a kiss with his bat during one of the matches with Anushka in the stands. After four years of dating, Kohli tied the knot with Anushka on 11th December of 2017 in Florence, Italy.
Virat has credited Anuskha for emotional strength, a maturity which he learnt from her. Today, both of them are the most recognisable and followed couples. So much that brands like Manyawar, Google Duo have even built marketing campaigns with them as the centre in popular commercial TV ads. To be fair, it all began on a commercial set.
As the world immerses itself in the celebration of love, let’s have a look at five of the most adorable Indian sports couples…