THE BLOG
09/20/2012 04:01 pm ET Updated Nov 14, 2012

FACE IT: Can We Judge A Man By His Woman?

I finally figured out what I love most about Roger Federer, even more than his elegance and class on the tennis court: His wife isn't beautiful.

Have you noticed that every major male player in professional tennis has a supermodel-sized woman cheering and tearing in the stands? I mean, when is the last time Brooklyn Decker was the fifth most attractive female in any setting?

Murray, Nadal, Roddick (Decker's hubby), Berdych, Djokovic, Tipsarevic (my vote for having the most luscious companion), Hewitt... all can rightfully boast drop-dead gorgeous partners. Tennis happens to be a sport I follow closely, but it is far from alone here. In the NFL, virtually every quarterback is attached to some gorgeous babe. Need I say more than Gisele Bundchen? Or check out the Miami Dolphins' bewitching bleachers on the TV series Hard Knocks.

Over on the baseball diamond, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have dated an A-list of Hollywood beauties, from Cameron Diaz to Kate Hudson to Minka Kelly. On the links, Tiger's beauteous blonde wife obviously wasn't enough for him, but Rory Mcllroy and Adam Scott, two star golfers of the moment, have landed... well, two of the cutest women on the tennis circuit! So there is some justice here.

Okay, point made. So what is the point? That rich and successful men still can get female partners who far exceed them in the looks department? That it's the old Beauty and Beast story: Men need attractive women to feel more attractive themselves? That, on the flip side, successful and wealthy women may accumulate male admirers or even groupies -- as have Serena and Venus Williams, for example -- but they still may scare more than they snare?

In all fairness, one has to be careful not to immediately stereotype these watching women as bimbos. Brooklyn and Gisele seem savvy in their field, and Nadal's girlfriend is such a serious student, she rarely has time to attend his matches. And frankly, who knows that the rather plain Mrs. Federer is necessarily smarter or more interesting? (Though she was a serious athlete.)

Still, one can't help but respect the fact that as he grew into a champion, an advertising magnet and friend of Anna Wintour, Federer has seemingly resisted temptation and stayed with his first love. One could get pseudo-psychy here, pointing out that his tennis game is less about power and domination, more about fluidity and instinct. (And perhaps that his wife has no desire to be dominated). Ultimately, it says something not only about loyalty, but about self confidence: This is a man who doesn't need a gorgeous appendage to make him feel whole.

In Hollywood terms, can you imagine Justin Timberlake dating an average-looking second grade teacher? Don't get me started on actors. I opened up the papers this week to see the wedding photo of Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Wasn't it minutes -- okay, months -- ago that he took the same picture and the same vows with Scarlett Johansson? And I assume he will again with whoever his next co-star happens to be.

Joanne Woodward -- a great lady but not a classic beauty -- knew when she married Paul Newman that she would have to minimize her own career to keep on eye on his movie sets. It worked. Jackie Bisset and Faye Dunaway may have been sexually desired objects, but Newman stayed put and appreciated his wife's multiple charms. Long marriages in Hollywood are rare, and maybe the fact this one wasn't based on beauty made a difference.

It is only right to wonder if strong women of fame and fortune are any more forgiving. Liz Taylor always claimed the love of her life was the dynamic but rather homely Mike Todd, who died before it could be tested. Joan Baez was the Madonna on the cover of Time, the focus of many a male fantasy, when she fell in love with an unattractive and unknown poet named Bob Dylan. Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow fell for Woody Allen for reasons other than his macho appeal.

In today's youth and beauty-obsessed culture, one sees such relationships less often. Oh, maybe occasionally in a Seth Rogan movie. (Though he has lost so much weight he barely qualifies as the menschy guy who miraculously gets Elizabeth Banks or Katherine Heigl). But off-screen? Halle Barry, arguably the hottest woman in Hollywood, keeps marrying handsome hunks and keeps striking out. She is hardly the exception. You do the math.

I have the feeling -- and the hope -- that Lena Dunham on HBO's Girls, may be taking on this very issue. She has hired Patrick Wilson -- my vote for the next Paul Newman look-alike award -- to play a possible romantic interest in future episodes. The press release said something like, "here is a way for Hannah to see that dudes can be normal in New York." Normal? Dude? The man is a God. But you go, girl, though let us remember this is not the real thing.

The question remains: Would a Patrick Wilson give a Lena Dunham a second look any time but during a second season?

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