It's Saturday morning, and a former tennis pro who was known as much for his stars-and-stripes bandanna as for his all-court game gives listeners to KKMS in Minneapolis a familiar greeting: "Welcome to the weekend. This is Beyond Sports with David Wheaton." The one-hour weekly Christian program covers topics as varied as Pat Tillman's death and same-sex marriage. This is one way Wheaton's tennis winnings enable him to pursue his life's mission.
"I couldn't just play golf," says Wheaton, who retired in 2001 after 13 years on tour. "The money has given me the opportunity to say what is very meaningful to me." That money totaled $5.2 million, an impressive sum for a player whose singles record was 232-191. Wheaton owes his financial security less to how many titles he won than to which title he won. In 1991 he beat Michael Chang in the Grand Slam Cup final for $2 million.
Now Wheaton, 34, shares his Christian beliefs through his radio show, speeches and a book he's writing to help college students avoid what he calls "spiritual shipwreck." His four residential properties in Minnesota are the principal testaments to his wealth. He's sold the Mercedes 560 convertible he once owned. "There's an impression of a rich pro athlete," he says, "and that's not the impression I want to give."