September 20, 2023

Open Court


Flashback: Stanley Cup champion Alex Ovechkin

There was a time (many times) when hockey star Alexander Ovechkin wasn’t so busy in early June.

This year, of course, he and his Washington Capitals were busy winning the Stanley Cup (!!!!!)

But back in 2012, it was a different time.

Ovechkin had a down season by his standards, with 65 points. And after upsetting the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs, the Capitals fell to the New York Rangers in the second round.

All of which gave the then 26-year-old Russian plenty of free time to hit Paris – and Roland Garros – to cheer on his girlfriend.

That would be countrywoman Maria Kirilenko.

Ovechkin an all-star cheerleader

Kirilenko was a top-20 singles player and a top-10 doubles player at the time, She teamed up with another Russian, Nadia Petrova, in the French Open doubles that year after losing in the second round of singles.

(The pair would win a bronze medal at the Olympics in London later in the season).

And “Ovi” was there all the way.

e cheered, and he laughed. (And he may or may not have yawned a couple of times). Ovechkin bonded with Kirilenko’s coach/father.

He went out and got snacks.

The two occasionally gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes.  

Ovechkin was an effective good-luck charm. Kirilenko and Petrova made it all the way to the final, before losing a three-setter to Italians Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.

Here are a few vintage shots from that year.

Kiri-Ovi update

Kirilenko and Ovechkin got engaged six months later, in December 2012.

But by July 2014, they had called it off, “for reasons Kirilenko did not want to get into”. (It boiled down to the fact that Ovechkin clearly was not ready to … settle down).

Shortly afterwards, Ovechkin began dating model Nastya Shubskaya. They married in Sept. 2016.

As for Kirilenko, who is still only 31, her last match came in Beijing, China in Sept. 2014. That was just three months after the engagement was called off.

She married Alexei Stepanov in January 2015, had her first child – a son, Mikhail – six months later. She had a daughter last September.

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