Robert and Maggie scoured their country for eight months. They went to nuns, priests and bankers for leads. "My parents didn't go around with application forms," Vijay quips. But they did have Vijay's specs. The prospective bride had to be fairly tall, fairly good-looking and fairly Catholic. Most importantly, she had to have a radiant personality. A knowledge of tennis was optional.
Amritraj interviewed the three top seeds, all of whom consented to marriage before ever meeting him. That discouraged our hero. He perhaps wanted a more discriminating woman.
In early 1982, Robert and Maggie heard of a local man who had moved to Sri Lanka and was publishing a newspaper there. He was looking for a young man from Madras for his daughter Shyamala. An independent sort, Shyamala hated the idea of an arranged marriage—she had already turned down 16 offers.
Shyamala and Vijay met in Madras under the watchful eyes of their mothers. He was impressed that she didn't seem to know or care who he was. On the way home, his parents grilled him. "What do you think?" asked Maggie. "What do you think?" asked Robert.
"I thought she was all right," said Vijay. "I wasn't jumping up and down."
Shyamala was equally ambivalent. "He isn't overly modern," she told her folks.
On each of the next two days, Vijay and Shyamala had hour-long chaperoned dates. Then Vijay took off for a tournament in Milan, telling his parents at the airport that Shyamala was the girl for him. She meanwhile had told her parents, "He's the guy for me."
They were engaged in June and got married the following January, on Maggie's birthday. The celebrations lasted three days. Four thousand people attended the reception. The two now have a son, Prakash.
These days, Vijay arranges his tennis schedule around his acting career. He has cast himself as a middle-aged narcotics officer in his own production, Nine Deaths of the Ninja, and he'll do a cameo in the next installment of the Star Trek saga. "Tennis and acting both require a lot of mental preparation," he says. "Concentration is the common ground. If I come to the net after hitting an approach shot to Jimmy Connors, I've got to remember to cover down the line. The same thing goes for playing a part."
Which is not to say tennis has become a drag. "I still have a little competitive fire." he says. "I'll play as long as it's not extinguished. Of course, I don't want to go out and make a putz of myself."