Q+A with Bridgette Wilson Sampras
Though she's eight months pregnant, the 29-year-old actress and wife of tennis star Pete Sampras is still quick on her feet. Her latest film, Extreme Ops, opens on Nov. 27.
SI: If you have a boy, would you consider naming him Andre or Lleyton?
SI: You play an Olympic gold medal skier in Extreme Ops. How good a skier are you?
Wilson-Sampras: Should I be truthful? I've only skied a couple of times in my life. Any skier would say I stink.
SI: Tell me about your character in Extreme Ops.
Wilson-Sampras: She's won a gold medal in downhill skiing and she's the one sort of outsider who comes in with all these extreme sports people who don't really accept her because it's like 'Oh, you're not really a real sports girl. You do downhill skiing.' At first she struggles to fit in.
SI: You performed your own stunts in Mortal Kombat. How many stunts did you perform for this movie?
Wilson-Sampras: I did some stuff, but all the beautiful, wide skiing shots you see are not me. Sometimes it's a man in a ski suit and a blond wig who looks just enough like me.
SI: In real life could J. Lo really steal Matthew McConaughey from you as she did in The Wedding Planner?
Wilson-Sampras: [Laughs.] I'll take the Fifth on that.
SI: In 1999 Pete called you, having never met you. What did he say that persuaded you to go out with him?
Wilson-Sampras: He actually left a message the first time. He was just so sweet and humble, and it was such a cute message, I was like, OK, I'll call him.
SI: What does your heart say about Pete's playing next year?
Wilson-Sampras: I'm mixed because it's all in his court. The great thing about it is he's in a position where he can do whatever he wants to do. If he wants to continue to play and enjoys it, a lot of the pressure is off. If he doesn't want to play, he doesn't have to.
SI: Would you rather he play or stay home and be Mr. Mom?
Wilson-Sampras: He'll be a little of Mr. Mom if he's on the road or not. I told him, "Wait and make your decision once little Pee-Wee comes. Middle of the night wake-ups and feedings might make you go, 'I really need to go play tennis.'"
SI: Have you learned how to play tennis since marrying a to a 14-time Grand Slam champion?
Wilson-Sampras: I haven't. There have been a couple of times we've gone on the court but it's pretty hard when I say, 'Well, how do you serve?' and he says, 'Well, you just do this.' Then you watch him and you go, 'OK, if I could just do that, I would be playing professionally.' I've decided I'm going to wait until my children are old enough [to play] because then maybe I'll be on the same level.
SI: You didn't know much about tennis when you went out with Pete, right?
Wilson-Sampras: I didn't know him, but I remember calling my sister and saying: 'Should I go? What should I do?' And she's like: 'You know what, just go. Have a drink. She said if it didn't work out, it was just a half-hour in my life or maybe it would be something really great. Panned out on sis' advice.
SI: Unlike those involved in the Salt Lake City figure skating scandal, can you assure our readers that you did not bribe any of the judges to win the 1990 Miss Teen USA competition?
Wilson-Sampras: I can assure you that I did not know any of the judges. But one of my judges was Robin Roberts of ESPN, and I know her now.
SI: Being married to Pete, what's the tougher crowd: movie critics or tennis journalists?
Wilson-Sampras: They both can be pretty rough at times.
SI: You married one of the world's most famous Greek-Americans. How close was your wedding to My Big Fat Greek Wedding?
Wilson-Sampras: (laughs) Pretty different.
SI: Who was the better Arnold Schwarzenegger daughter: Alyssa Milano in Commando or you in Last Action Hero?
Wilson-Sampras: Is that even a necessary question?
SI: Have you picked out names for the baby?
Wilson-Sampras: Some. We're still working on it. It's one of those things where we had some picked out and liked them for so long until we were like 'Do we really like them anymore?' Then we made the mistake of telling people our names and everybody finds something wrong with every name you come up with. We've learned that once we do come up with a couple of names, we have to put them in the vault.
SI: You were born in Coos Bay, Ore. Do you know what famous athlete was born there?
Wilson-Sampras: I do. Steve Prefontaine.
SI: That's correct. People magazine described you as an athletic tomboy who would fish and chop wood with her father. When is the last time you chopped wood in Los Angeles?
Wilson-Sampras: That hasn't happened yet.
SI: You played basketball, volleyball and track in high school. What was your best sport?
Wilson-Sampras: I played varsity on all of them for four years. I'm 5'9 and that's not that tall for a center so I was a forward. I loved playing volleyball and basketball and track I was good at, but it stressed me out. I realized the difficulty of an individual sport over team sports. In track, I ran the 400 and did the long jump but when I did the mile relay I was always faster and my times were always better because I was part of a team. I was so stressed for every 400. I would just about make myself sick.
SI: After seeing your performance in Love Stinks, Pete was determined to get in touch with you. He obviously loved you in the movie but how do you rate that performance?
WIlson-Sampras: I remember laughing and thinking, 'Of all the movies I've done in my life, the one where I play a crazy awful psycho woman finds me my husband.'
SI: Could Pete ever make it as an actor?
Wilson-Sampras: I'll tell you what: He's pretty good at it sometimes (laughs).
SI: Do you share your husband's obsession with the Lakers?
Wilson-Sampras: I have grown to love the Lakers. We started out with a little rivalry. I was a Utah fan, but I've been converted.
SI: Have any of your single friends asked your husband to introduce them to tennis players?
Wilson-Sampras: 'Can you find me a guy that's always on the road and never around, that would be really great!' No, I haven't.
SI: If you were the casting director for the movie version of your lives, who would star as Pete and Bridgette?
Wilson-Sampras: That's a good question. I don't know. Who would I cast for my husband? And more curiously, would I put myself in those scenes next to my actor-husband? Instead of the movie maybe we'll do a reality TV show like The Osbournes. We do have an English bulldog like Lola. Except ours is named Ruby.
SI: Finally, would you ever have Andre and Steffi Agassi over for some lunch and a game of doubles?
Wilson-Sampras: If it's Andre and [their infant son], Jaden, against me and Pete, I just might consider it.
Issue date: Nov. 11, 2002