Tennis star James Blake serves up his thoughts on love and life.
Who was your celebrity crush when you were growing up?
Hmmm. Well, '’d have to say Kelly Bundy from Married with Children. I was 13, it was the most popular show on TV, and she was hot. But it was just based on looks—I'm not into the whole airhead thing.
You know Christina Applegate is back on the market, and so are you. Are you going to look her up?
(Laughter.) I've never met her! This was just a distant crush. And I think she's older than me. Isn't she?
Well, yes—she's 35 and you're 27. But age is just a number! How do you spot women who are only after you because you're famous?
Usually the ones who are interested for the wrong reasons are pretty easy to detect. But I also take them around to my coach, my friends, my family. My friends have a pact: We promise to tell each other whenever we think that a person is short-changing himself in a relationship. We've all seen marriages that are loveless and we don't want to end up like that. So it's like, "You gotta tell me, man." I trust my friends.
Brian Barker has been your coach since you were 11. So, you're a one-coach kind of man. Are you a one-woman kind of man?
(Laughter.) Definitely. I've never cheated on a girlfriend and I never will. When you're on the road all the time, it's important that your girlfriend can trust you. And that's never been an issue.
Do you have a type?
Physically? No. I've dated all types. Personality? I tend to go for people who are cheerful, outgoing, see the bright side of life. Not overly so, though. I'm not into—for lack of a better word—motormouths. I need to be quiet sometimes.
When you shaved your dreads, you lost $1 million in endorsements. Have you been surprised by the interest in your looks?
I've changed my hair a lot throughout my life—and it just so happened that when I started playing professionally, I had dreads. I noticed a lot of the coverage was about the way I looked. But, well, look at Andre Agassi. He got a lot of attention for his hair, and when he shaved it off, he came back an even better player. I wanted to see what it would do for me. I wanted the focus to be on my game.
Do you play tennis with your girlfriends?
If they're interested I will, but it's not always fun for me. Sometimes, when I come back from a four-hour practice, the last thing I want to do is hit balls. When you play with me, I can make you look stupid or I can make you look good. So you have to have fun with it.
In your 60 Minutes special, your mother predicted that Jennifer Scholle, who was your girlfriend at the time, wouldn't be around much longer. That had to be awkward.
Well, actually, I saw it for the first time with both Jen and my mom. (Laughter.) My mom says that she doesn't even remember saying that. It just came out in the moment, but she sensed that it might not be the right relationship for me in the long run. She's protective. She doesn't hold back.
Your ex was also featured in Maxim wearing ... well, not much. How did that feel?
Maxim actually approached me about that. I arranged it for her. I think everyone should go after their dreams, and I'd never prevent my girlfriend from doing what she wanted. To the extent that I can help her, I do. Jen wanted to model, so I supported that. I'm not sure what her father thinks about the photos, though.
How do you know when a relationship is over?
When I can no longer see myself having a life with that person—a marriage, and a family—then I know it's over and I break up. I've heard it's more difficult if you drag it out. I break it off early, so there are fewer hard feelings. Maybe that's why I'm friends with most of my exes.
From the sound of it, you're doing most of the breaking up. Have you ever been heartbroken?
Yes. Sure. Hasn't everyone?
I heard that your parents met on a tennis court. Would you ever date a tennis player?
That’s right. My dad was always looking for someone to play tennis with and my mom was one of the better players at the club. That’s how they got to know each other. But I’ve never dated a tennis player. I’m not sure it would be such a good idea. When I go to tournaments, I’m not thinking about romance. It’s nice to have all of that separated from tennis.
What did your parents’ relationship teach you about love?
My parents had a great relationship. [Blake’s father died in 2004.] They had this mutual respect. When they talked about each other, their eyes actually lit up. They both considered themselves incredibly lucky. They both thought they’d chosen someone who was, in some ways, better than themselves. That’s the goal, to feel that way. That’s what I want.