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Bridgette Wilson-Sampras: New Parents Should 'Stay Connected'

06/22/2009 at 06:00 PM ET

Courtesy New Mom’s Handbook for use on CBB

When Bridgette Wilson-Sampras welcomed Christian Charles in 2002, her two-year marriage with tennis star Pete Sampras took a fast dive into uncharted waters.

“The first time around as a mom, I held on really tight and I was so stressed,” she reveals in the Hot Moms Club summer issue. “Pete was a little freaked out so he wasn’t doing anything. And we were like, ‘What’s happening here?'”

With the arrival of their second son Ryan Nikolaos, the couple — albeit “more confident,” having established a “rhythm” —  quickly realized that they were in desperate need of a vacation, if only for the sake of their relationship.

After struggling through “some nightmare experiences with babysitters,” Bridgette was understandably wary of leaving her baby boys, but a determined Pete was unwilling to give in so easily! “I was like, ‘I love you and all, honey, but I’m busy,'” she recalls.

“Pete was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ll fly your mom down! Can we just spend the night, one night somewhere?’ I said, ‘Okay, sure.’ You have to stay connected to each other. I know my husband felt not so much a part of it and [when he felt] not a part of me, it made everything so much harder. That was a lesson that took me a while to learn.”

Urging new mamas to accept that “you know more than you think you do” and “to do what’s right for you,” Bridgette shares that she too had to rely on her instinct when it came to her role as the household disciplinarian. “Pete laughs at me because if they are doing something, I say, ‘Let me explain that’ and ‘Let me remind you, this is how we need to do that, so let’s not do it that way again,” she muses.

As the 35-year-old mama has been forced to encourage her boys’ independence, in the same breath, Pete has equally learned to let his wife “talk things through.” That, says Bridgette, is the beauty of co-parenting!

“We had to give each other permission to be different as parents. That’s why there’s a mom and a dad with two different approaches, because you do need both.”

A 15-year career filled with Grand Slam titles and countless championships has Pete branded as one of the greatest tennis players to date, however, despite his love for the game, the proud papa is allowing his sons to choose their own paths in life. “He is not one to push; he’s not pushing tennis, they don’t even play tennis,” Bridgette notes. In fact, she admits, the boys are completely oblivious when it comes to their father’s history!

“[When strangers introduce themselves, Christian will ask], ‘How does he know you, Daddy?’ ‘Well, he saw me play tennis.’ And he will be like, ‘Oh. Where?'”

As for Bridgette, her hiatus from the big screen since starting her family is a decision she never regrets. “For now, I want to be there when [the boys] wake up and I want to be there to put them in bed,” she says, adding that her return to acting is simply “a matter of when.”

Source: Hot Moms Club; Summer issue

– Anya

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Showing 27 comments

Ivey on

Wow that comes across all over the place, maybe the full article makes more sense.

Also at that age you don’t really care what your parents do for a living, but I think Pete was a great tennis player and I hope they instill pride with that in their children, when they are older.

ab on

She sounds like a real down-to-earth mom, and a very busy one at that! What’s up with her husband not “doing anything?” If you have a baby together, you have to raise it together! It doesn’t matter what you do for a living!

kc on

ab, the way it’s worded sounds to me like she anointed herself the “baby expert” so that Pete couldn’t find any kind of parenting to please her, so he stopped trying.

But I also agree with Ivey that she’s “all over the place” and hoping it makes more sense than that with some context.

Sadie on

Ab, I think she was saying he wasn’t doing asnything because she had turned into one of those obsessive control freak moms, she probably wasn’t letting him truly help. I think it’s pretty obvious she changed for the better and now they are co-parenting!

Heather on

People are going to come down hard on me for saying this, but it appears that the older child may be on the spectrum. As a mother of a child with autism and a special educator, you can just spot it a mile away–his gaze, no emotion on the face. If it is true I hope she lends her celebrity to bring attention to this disorder rather than use it for cover time and mom-isms. If I’m wrong then I apologize.

Debra on

After reading this story the only thing that came to mind was back when Sampras was playing and Bridgett was constantly at his matches and Pete took a bad slump in the rankings they blamed Bridget and called her the “Yoko ono of tennis”. This interview she admitted that Pete took a back seat from parenting because she was a complete control freak and he didn’t know how to handle her and her compulsiveness. I guess I don’t really have anywhere to go with this other then I wonder if the people who dubbed her Yoko ono had known her personally but were told to shut their mouths for respect for Pete and his tennis game.

Mira on

““[When strangers introduce themselves, Christian will ask], ‘How does he know you, Daddy?’ ‘Well, he saw me play tennis.’ And he will be like, ‘Oh. Where?’””

This is really weird. This child is at least 6 years old. Why wouldn’t you tell him that his father was a professional tennis player? Most three-year olds have some idea what their parents do for a living. It makes no sense whatsoever to me.

NNR on

Heather- I was thinking the same thing. I’m glad you said it first. I’ve been teaching preschool for quite some time and have had many children that I have suggested going to get “checked out” and I am usually correct. But that stare is usually an early indicator. Now people won’t come down on you alone…

skunknuggets on

Heather – I thought the same thing. He has the same look as my middle child who is on the spectrum. However, perhaps that was the best picture of Bridgette even if it wasn’t the best picture of her son. It does looks like her son may be distracted by something out of camera shot.

Kelli on

Sounds to me like she is admitting that parenting is a struggle for everyone and that they have been working together to find out what works best for their family. Maybe you should try to see the positive in this, rather than slam someone because of your own inadequacies or petty jealousy.

Elizabeth on

Beautiful boys. Apparently we are all diagnosing via these pix, because my first thought was that the younger Sampras son, who is the same age as my daughter, has CP, as does my daughter. Like her, he appears unable to sit independently, and like her, his legs are still “froggy legs.” You know what — I hope both Sampras boys are healthy, and it’s just us projecting onto them.

Diane on

Wow, I am shocked…Most of you who have made the comments about the health of the children, may have a personal feeling because you have children who have these conditions, but to make the assumptions because of the picture that their children may also have these conditions, shame on you….Whether self diagnosing is in your comments, you should of refrained if the article was not related to these subjects…

JMO on

Perhaps maybe they’re just to rambunctious little boys who can’t sit still and it’s hard to get a good shot of them all happy and sitting!! To me it looks like Ryan is trying to pull her off of him, like “get of me mom I got stuff to do!”

Jenny on

I have to agree with Diane. Kind of weird to be making these assumptions based on one photograph. What is the point really?

zk on

Dear Diane: Are you in charge of the comments?

Why do you feel qualified to project your opinion as shame on others’ opinions?

Joy on

Brigette seems like a wonderful mom. Kudos to her!! And those boys are sooo handsome. Future heartbreakers– both of them!!

Elizabeth on

Shame on me for discussing the possibility of special needs kids and their conditions? What in the world? Shame on YOU!

bonnie on

OMG!!! that child is not on the spectrum! do you know how hard it is to take pictures. I know for a fact that is not true. You really should not comment on something like health like that without knowing facts. that is awful.. the boys were playing and had to be brought over to take pictures not the first thing on their agenda!!

shame on YOU!!!

Joy on

As a person who personally knows Pete and Bridgette, I can tell you that the article pointed out how difficult it is raising two active little boys and how important it is that Mom and Dad are on the same page. Christian does not have any medical problems. I have seen him laughing and having fun many times. Ryan is perhaps a little more active, but that is pretty normal for a little guy his age.

Pete has been a great help to Bridgette with the boys. Many articles about Pete note how much he enjoys being with Bridgette and the boys. Pete is back playing tennis which leaves a lot of the work with Bridgette. But most men who work during the day leave their wives with the kids all day. Bridgette is a wonderful caring person and Pete loves her very much.

Gigohead on

I attended an after party for the Sampras/Federer showdown. She was there. She is very pretty in person and very friendly. She greeted our group. I’m happy to see that she and her family are doing well.

christina on

Shame? Oh, good grief. There is nothing shameful about having a child on the autism spectrum, nor in wondering if another child is, as well. Mixed messages like that is one of the reasons why special needs children and adults in our society are treated the way they are.

FTR, many people here made comments about the Travolta’s late son Jett being on the spectrum, although his parents never acknowledged publicly, he was considered to have been autistic.

1 in 65 boys is on the autism spectrum, whether or not their parents are celebrities.

Why is it perectly acceptable on this site to criticize celebrities’ personal lives and parenting skills (Traci Lords and Jenna Jameson have received some choice comments as did Mayim Bialik) but it’s considered *shameful* to speculate that a child may have special needs?

fuschia on

It is widely speculated that Suri Cruise is autistic. Again, mainly I have noticed by mothers of children with autistic children who notice the same expressions on Suri etc. While having no idea either way I have always looked to see shots of her interacting with her parents and to date have not seen one. Who knows?

What I do know is that Pete nad Bridgette have two cute kids!

bonnie on

the shame christina is.. that it is no bodies business to claim that a child is on the spectrum from a photo. if he was Bridgett and pete would deal with it. but no one has the right to make those assumptions or even start that conversation without having more details. I work with autistic kids all the time. I am sensitive to those needs. I just don’t think it is fair to begin labeling a child with out any info.

Christina on

Bonnie, we’ll have to agree to disagree. My husband has Asperger’s (on the autism spectrum) and our oldest child is also on the autsim spectrum (our other children are not). I am intimately familiar with their challenges, and also with how society views and treats people with disabilities. I am not ashamed of either my husband our our child. To be honest, I don’t care one whit about labels. Society has a label for everyone, regardless of one’s status of disability. My years in disability advocacy has shown me that to be true. But, wondering if someone has a disability is not assigning a label to them. Big difference, IMO.

Honestly, I find the critical and judgemental comments people make about parents and children here to be more shameful than someone speculating about the possibility of special needs. The posters who wondered if he may have autism (and no one said he did) were not malicious. Can’t say the same about other posters who’ve made comments about a celebrity parent’s personal life or their parenting choices.

When you get down to it, it’s nobodies’ business to say anything about any of the photos here, is it? Posters feel free to criticize a child’s name, or speculate which celebrities are using IVF with donor eggs and who is too old to be a parent, who should “just adopt” instead of pursuing fertility treatments, and who is too young to be a good parent.. is it anyone’s business to make those claims based on a photo here?

Tara on

I agree with Bonnie for the mere fact she is just saying that if you “feel” he looks like he is autistic, why should it have to be mentioned here in topic in regards to this article. Most are stating that we should be commenting on how it was great that
Bridgette and Pete finally found themselves as co-parents. I have 5 children and have man pics of them that one may think the same. Trying to get a child to focus on the camera, it is NOT an easy task!!! They were outside, so something may have distracted him from focusing on the fact he was “supposed” to pose with a big cheesy smile for a camera. Whether he is or is not, that is in fact between Bridgette and Pete. I agree with everyone here when “most” are saying, they are two handsome young little men and when they get older and much more focused, they are going to be well sought after!!! Kudos to Bridgette and Pete.

Caring MOM on

As I read the article and responses I questioned as to how the comments were drawn from imagination.You have a beautiful women who is very private with her family life, doesn’t over expose their children to the press, lives a very normal life, and loves being a mother . She did over 30 films , her husband Pete and father to their beautiful and healthy boys, retired from a sport and he has gone down in history as a legend, before Christian even was walking.Both boys are extremely active and healthy physically and excell mentally as well. How refreshing to think that these boys are being raised to be there own person, and learn to make choices as to what they want to pursue in life and not labeled by what their parents did for a living. Something that should be made clear is neither child has a health issue,but their parents would be the first to explain that all children are equal and if there is a way that they can help a cause they are happy to do so.Compassion and education are important for those who deal with any kind of real health issues.To try and create something in an imaginative or negative way from one of the few photos printed is the exact reason to try and protect the most precious gift a parent has been given.Read the article again and you will hear a woman say she is willing to give up all else for her children,to explain things rather than just ignore a growing mind, they are her priority, in the process of learning to find balance, they as a family have found ways to create time for each other as husband and wife and parents.I would look to follow in their footsteps,not look for non-existent flaws. Congratulations on the efforts they have made to be successful parents.

Sarah on

Bridgette is so beautiful.

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