Even though she bore her soul to HBO about her affair with Tiger Woods, Rachel Uchitel still feels uncomfortable talking about their romance. The 45-year-old confesses that – more than 10 years after their relationship became front page news – it’s still “painful” for her to talk about the golfing legend.
“This whole conversation is painful for me,” the former New York club hostess admits during an interview with HollywoodLife, days before the second part of HBO’s docuseries, Tiger, airs. “I don’t like to even talk about it. It’s really uncomfortable for me. I don’t like the stigma of any of it. I’ve tried to get away from it. People don’t let me get away from it. They want to shame me for it.”
It’s no surprise that Rachel looks like she wants to crawl out of her skin when pushed to talk about Tiger. Her relationship with the GOAT changed her life forever when it became public knowledge in November 2009. Until then, he wasn’t just a legendary golfer; he was a golden boy with an image that couldn’t have been squeakier. Gorgeous wife. Two beautiful kids.
Then, on Thanksgiving night, a few weeks after the National Enquirer accused him and Rachel of having an affair, he crashed his car near his Florida home after his then wife Elin Nordegren confronted his mistress over the phone.
The rest is tabloid history. For weeks woman after woman came forward alleging that they too had affairs with Tiger. He publicly apologized, entered rehab for sex addiction and divorced his wife. Although his image was eventually rehabilitated, Rachel says hers was not and she continues to be attacked in person and online for the affair.
“I obviously made some mistakes in my life and I feel awful about it,” she says. “But that’s between me and the people that I was involved [with]… People that don’t know me, that don’t know anything about me and that I’ve never hurt, have such anger towards me, like I’ve personally done something to them. And that’s not right. And the media has blamed me for other people’s choices and that’s not right either.”
During Part 2 of the Tiger docuseries, viewers will get to see what Rachel means. Paparazzi hound her in old footage, surrounding her car, sticking cameras in her face and shouting questions about her sex life while she tries to scurry away. In another clip, Joy Behar on The View calls her a “hooker.” A decade later that still stings.
“Of course, that hurt me. It was horrible to hear them…” she says, adding, “To this day people still call me a hooker. I’m not a hooker. That’s ridiculous.”
Rachel says that people still publicly fling abuse at her, even when she’s out with her 8-year-old daughter, Wyatt. “I hope you get AIDS and die,” is one insult she’s heard. “I hope that you get into a car crash and your daughter gets a new mother,” is another.
“Sometimes I’m silent. Sometimes, if I’m with a friend, my friend might get aggressive. Sometimes I’ll stand up for myself…” says Rachel, who lives in Florida. “It just depends where I am. Depends if I’m with my kid.”
While Rachel admits that it was wrong to sleep with a married man, she also believes that the unhealthy relationships that she’s had is a result of “love addiction.” She’s had therapy and gushes about the Transcend rehab centers, which have helped her to process her life trauma and realize that she was using love to ease her pain. “Love addiction, in the simplest terms, is mistaking intensity for love,” says Rachel, who claims that in the past she “didn’t understand love.”
Her father died of a cocaine overdose when she was just 15. Her fiancé, Andy O’Grady, was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. And then there was Tiger. All three events were covered in the media at the time.
“There’s no normalcy,” she says, later admitting, “The way I found myself credible was by finding the most important person in the room… the most sought-after person in the room. Whoever wanted that person, if they wanted me, that gave me credibility. That’s how I found my version of love.”
Looking back, she says she would “do things a lot different.” To this day she feels like her reputation hasn’t recovered from her affair with Tiger. “You’re always on the quest for a comeback,” she says. For Rachel – who has remained tightlipped for a decade – Tiger is her shot. “I really would hope that this documentary brings out a conversation about how the media handles situations like this; about building people up and then wanting to tear them down,” she says. She believes that, like Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, she can’t shake the association with Tiger Woods.
Asked what she’d say to any woman in the future whose affair with a married megastar is rumbled by the media, Rachel gives it her best shot. “Try and hold your head up and do the best you can,” she says. “It’s really hard. And I hope you make it out not too bruised.” The second and final part of Tiger airs on HBO on Sunday Jan. 17 at 9pm ET.Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.