Could you have withstood the heartbreaking revelations of your husband’s infidelities, the constant presence of the paparazzi, and the outspoken public opinions of multiple mistresses, with the calm fortitude of Elin Nordegren?
I think it’s safe to say that few of us could have conducted ourselves with the grace under pressure that Tiger’s now-former wife did. And only now after the finalization of her divorce on Aug. 23 has she spoken out in a cover-story interview with PEOPLE magazine.
Aside from the night of Nov. 27, 2009, when Elin tore out of her home after Tiger crashed the family suburban, Elin has never once been seen publicly agitated, and now she’s finally spoken out with honesty and maturity about how her “whole world’ fell apart.
Instead, the 30-year-old blond beauty held her head high for months as busty babe after busty babe came forward with sordid tales of wild sex with her now ex.
Wouldn’t you have stayed in bed … permanently, with the covers over your head? I would have. But not Elin. While publicity attorney Gloria Allred held press conferences on behalf of Tiger’s “hard done by” mistresses, Elin proudly went about her daily life, caring for her two babies Sam, 2, and Charlie, 1.
Despite the presence of the press, she dropped Sam at nursery school and ballet classes, took both children to play dates and birthday parties, and was even spotted wheeling them on their red wagon through the street near their home in Windermere, Fla. Focusing on her two young children was, she now admits, what got her through the past nine devastating months.
Elin reveals now what we all guessed, that she did undergo the most torturous rollercoaster of emotions: shock, betrayal, heartache, embarrassment, loneliness, humiliation, anger, and hurt. She must have felt like she’d been kicked in the stomach by the man she had loved — the father of her children, no less.
And the pain went on and on. It was unrelenting. For weeks, there were revelations of new mistresses and sordid sexual exploits in the media every day, all day. She even had to learn that her now ex-husband had had sex in her own homes and with the daughter of a neighbor she had known for years. She admits that while she didn’t watch TV for months, she did follow some of the reports on the Internet.
Did you, like I did, wonder how much one woman could take? And not only did Elin take it, she continued to keep her life and the life of her children as normal as possible. She made her children her top priority, even though their father hadn’t. She also had to cope with feeling betrayed “by many people around” her, she tells PEOPLE, an unmissable reference to Tiger’s team and best friends, who abetted his philandering.
Most impressively, until today, Elin never said ONE WORD publicly about Tiger, his mistresses, or her marriage. She kept her hurt and anger to herself, turning only for support to her twin sister Josefin Nordegren, a lawyer in London, and to her mother, former Swedish politician Barbro Holmberg, and her father, Thomas Nordegren. When the Christmas holidays loomed, she took the children and went skiing in the French Alps with her sister and friends.
Most women in this kind of stressful, heartbreaking situation would have been hard-pressed to keep their lips zipped. They couldn’t have helped themselves from at least saying a few choice words publicly about their philandering husband.
Not Elin. She first quietly made a statement that rang out loudly and clearly when she deliberately removed her wedding ring one day, and went out to pump gas with her hand out and clearly seen. The silent symbolism spoke volumes. She still doesn’t say a nasty word about her ex. The closest she comes in her PEOPLE interview is to say that she is “still working on” forgiveness.
Amazingly, for many months of her ordeal, Elin appeared to be willing to try and save her marriage to Tiger. She visited him at the sex rehab clinic he entered in Hattiesburg, Miss., and apparently spent a week going to therapy with him. Part of the reported therapy was to listen to Tiger’s confessions about his every last infidelity. Can you imagine how she felt? Wouldn’t it have been like knives going through your heart? But she was willing to give him a second chance for the sake of their family. “I really wanted my children to have a core family,” she now says.
Could you have done that?
Furthermore, just think about how Elin’s life was turned topsy-turvy after the course of one night, once she found out about Tiger’s #1 mistress, Rachel Uchitel. Prior to that night, she was the admired loving wife of five years to the world’s greatest golfer, a role model for millions. His golf world was her world. They would have had their own friends and social circle.
But in an instant, that was lost, and Elin has had to rebuild a life for herself and her young children, and to find people who wouldn’t betray her trust.
I give her an A+ not only for her courage, but for setting the record straight in one very open interview. I suspect that Tiger and his legal team signed off on every word in this PEOPLE interview, after agreeing that it was a good idea that she had her say, before retreating into private life again.
She has reclaimed her maiden name. It will allow her to regain anonymity in time and it’s a backhanded slap at Tiger for the pain he caused her. “She cut ties and said, ‘I want to be known by my own identity,'” points out Michael Sands, an LA-based celebrity image expert.
You also have to give Elin kudos for never being insecure about her own style and identity through these past months. Tiger may have romped with bust-enhanced, scantily-clad bimbettes, but Elin never strayed from her own classic, easy sporty style. The mistresses wore heavy makeup. Elin wore almost none. Their necklines plunged down to there. Elin kept her naturally gorgeous and toned former model’s figure fully clothed.
“She let Tiger do his thing and she came out smelling like a rose. You have to commend this woman. Because of this, she may even go back to modelling or do a product endorsement. I think anyone would hire her” says Sands.
“She was exemplary,” agrees Whitney Casey, relationship expert for Match.com, and author of The Man Plan. “Elin is so young and it’s not like she had any practice in dealing with a situation like this. She must have had great family support and love so she didn’t need to get love and sympathy from the outside world,” adds Casey. It’s true, she now talks about how she and her lawyer sister Josefin are best friends and as a lawyer was able to give her help with practical matters.
In this world of reality TV and tell-all books, it is almost more shocking that Elin didn’t seek to share her pain and anger with the public. Hey, she never even lost her temper at the paparazzi trailing her day after day, from Orlando to Switzerland.
Instead, once she realized that her marriage was “irretrievably broken,” she and Tiger quietly worked out a settlement that may have been as much as $100 million. She deserves every penny.
Wisely, it appears that Tiger was willing to tear up a pre-nup that would’ve limited her to $10 million of his reported $600 million-plus fortune.
“She handled her difficult situation better than anyone I’ve seen in a long time,” says Michael Sands. “It speaks volumes for her character.”
It sure does! Tiger threw away the love of a woman with extraordinary strength of character.
Now she says she will finish her psychology degree and have a career as well as being a loving mother.
Hey AmEx: How about dumping Tiger as the face of your Platinum card, and endorsing Elin Nordegren instead?
Now SHE’S a role model!