Tennis legend Pete Sampras has been married to actress Bridgette Wilson since 2000
The all-time great former tennis player and the former actress have been together since 1999, after being connected by former Los Angeles Lakers Vice President of Public Relations John Black. In his 2008 book A Champion’s Mind, Sampras mentioned asking Black to put him in touch with Wilson after seeing her in a starring role while Sampras was recovering from an injury.
“There was a bright spot to that otherwise terrible late summer — my injury was directly responsible for my wife and me meeting,” Sampras wrote. “While I was hurt, I was watching this movie, Love Stinks, with a friend, John Black. Bridgette Wilson, an actress in the film, caught my eye. Actually, she blew me away when I saw her. I thought she was stunning.”
The 14-time Grand Slam winner went on to say that he knew the Billy Madison star was “the one” after their first date. Nine months later, the two got married in 2000, and they are now proud parents to two sons: Christian Charles and Ryan Nikolaos.
So, who is Pete Sampras’ wife? Here’s everything to know about Bridgette Wilson and her relationship with the tennis legend.
Wilson was named Miss Teen USA in 1990
Wilson was born to Kathy and Dale Wilson on Sept. 25, 1973, in Gold Beach, Oregon. 17 years later, in 1990, she represented her home state in the Miss Teen USA pageant and went on to win, being named Miss Teen USA 1990.
When she was asked about whether family or career was more important to her during the competition, she spoke about the influence her own family had on her.
“Actually, even though I am very interested in the entertainment field I would probably choose family and that is because my family is so closely knit, and they’ve given me such a strong belief in myself,” Wilson said. “That’s why I’m here today … because I’ve had that solid background and I would like to have children to give that same background to and have that same confidence in themselves.”
Wilson had a successful acting career
After her Miss Teen USA win, Wilson took advantage of her newfound fame to launch an acting career. Her first roles came in 1992, when she starred in 20 episodes of the Emmy-Winning soap opera Santa Barbara, and five episodes of the popular sitcom Saved By the Bell.
She then acted in her first movie in 1993, playing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter in Last Action Hero. Her film career took off in 1995 when she starred in films like Mortal Kombat and Billy Madison.
In Billy Madison, Wilson starred opposite Adam Sandler as his love interest and encouraging third-grade teacher, Veronica Vaughn. Sandler played the titular role of a man-child repeating grades one through 12. (Wilson’s character was named one of the most memorable teachers in pop culture by PEOPLE.)
Wilson and Sampras were introduced by a Los Angeles Lakers executive in 1999
After winning his sixth Wimbledon title in 1999, Sampras suffered a leg injury at the RCA Championships in Indianapolis. However, in his book A Champion’s Mind, he wrote that this was a blessing in disguise as seeing a movie while injured led to him meeting his future wife.
After watching 1999’s Love Stinks with his friend John Black — the former Los Angeles Lakers Vice President of Public Relations — Sampras asked Black if he could use his Hollywood connections to get Sampras a date with Wilson, who starred in the film. Black obliged, and eventually Sampras and Wilson met at Sampras’ house before their first date, where things were a bit awkward before they warmed up to each other over dinner.
“Our first meeting was almost painful, it was so awkward. We were both tongue-tied, and we barely made eye contact. It was comical, or at least it would have been to anyone who wasn’t us,” Sampras wrote.
“I suggested dinner at an Italian restaurant. The change of scenery … helped,” Sampras continued. “Gradually, we loosened up and had a wonderful dinner. Back at home after our first date I was smitten — and I knew she was the one.”
They got married in their backyard in 2000
Sampras and Wilson had an extravagant wedding in their California backyard on Sept. 30, 2000. There were about 80 guests — including Wayne Gretzky — a plate-cracking ceremony paying tribute to Sampras’ Greek heritage and a 45-minute piano set by EGOT-winner Elton John, capped off by John playing Can You Feel the Love Tonight.
Wilson spoke with InStyle about the most meaningful moment of her wedding in February 2001.
“The moment I loved was when I was walking down the aisle and I got to look Pete in the eye. And when he was repeating a few of the vows to me, I started to cry,” Wilson said.
She supported Sampras during his tennis career
Sampras — also referred to as “Pistol Pete” for his fast, precise and powerful serve — is well-known as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He began his professional tennis career in 1988 — when he was 16 years old — and retired in 2002 after winning a then-record 14 Grand Slam titles and ending the year ranked as the ATP No. 1 player in the world from 1993 to 1998.
After Sampras met Wilson in 1999, she attended many of his biggest matches, including his final match at the US Open in 2002 — where he won his record-breaking 14th Grand Slam title — and his Tennis Hall of Fame induction. Between winning the US Open in 2002 and Sampras’ 2003 retirement, Wilson spoke with NBC about the speculation surrounding Sampras’ eventual retirement.
“If he decides to not play again and the US Open was the last match that he played, I think it’s wonderful. If he’s happy and content, then I’m happy and content,” Wilson said. “There’s another side of me, obviously that is really going to miss watching him play.”
Sampras and Wilson have two kids together
Sampras and Wilson are parents to two kids. The couple welcomed their first son Christian on Nov. 21, 2002, and their second son Ryan on July 29, 2005.
In June 2009, Wilson spoke with PEOPLE about her experience parenting with Sampras, and learning how to adapt to each other’s parenting styles.
“We had to give each other permission to be different as parents,” Wilson said. “That’s why there’s a mom and dad with two different approaches because you do need both.”
Both retired from their careers to focus more on their family lives, which Wilson also elaborated on in the same interview with PEOPLE.
“For now, I want to be there when [the boys] wake up, and I want to be there to put them in bed,” Wilson said.
Wilson’s family has been supportive of her since her ovarian cancer diagnosis
On Oct. 2, 2023, Sampras revealed that Wilson had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer 10 months earlier in December 2022. He released his statement via the ATP tour.
“As most have come to know, I am a pretty quiet and private person. However, this past year has been an exceptionally challenging time for my family, and I have decided to share what’s been going on,” he began the statement, which was posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
“Last December, my wife, Bridgette, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” he continued. “Since then, she has had major surgery, pushed through chemotherapy and continues with targeted maintenance therapy.”
The former ATP No. 1 player in the world then praised both of his sons’ support and his wife’s strength and determination.
“It’s hard to watch someone you love go through a challenge like this. However, seeing our boys step up and be such strong supporters of Bridgette, myself and each other has been amazing,” Sampras said. “Watching Bridgette continue to be an incredible mom and wife through it all has been very inspiring … With that said, I will end this by humbly asking for good thoughts and prayers for our family as Bridgette continues to thrive on her healing journey. Thank you.”
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