He stole her moment of professional glory. By proposing.

I’ve just asked Hillary Clinton my final question in an exclusive interview. She winks, adjusts the scrunchie in her hair, and shakes my hand.

It’s the greatest moment of my career as a journalist – just me, Hills, and a TV crew. It’s my moment, and I’ll hug it to myself for the rest of my life.

Then my boyfriend walk in, smiles, gets down on one knee and proposes. It’s surreal, and the first feeling I have is anger.

But we’ll get to that in a moment. For a start, I don’t have a boyfriend and I’ve never met Hills.

Imagine your career-defining moment. If you’re a chef, maybe your restaurant just got awarded three hats. A teacher, you’ve just changed a kid’s life. An entrepreneur, you’ve just received a massive cheque from an investor. Whatever it is, it’s the most sublime feeling of elation and total, exhausted satisfaction. The pride belongs to you and you alone – that’s part of the greatness.

Then your partner arrives, unannounced. He or she asks for your hand in marriage. Your career highlight is quickly replaced by a romantic, shared happiness. What was all about you as your own person, as a successful individual, is suddenly about you as a couple. And that’s nice, but goddamn you worked hard for that soufflé/student/cheque/interview – that achievement deserved its own celebration.

That’s what just happened to Dutch tennis player Michaella Krajicek. She’d just slammed her opponent on the court in Holland, bringing her closer to competing at Wimbledon. She was sweaty, fierce, and so, so happy. She wrapped a towel around her shoulders, dabbed the sweat from her forehead and smiled, knowing she’d just changed her own life.

But she only got 30 seconds to celebrate the highlight of her career as an elite athlete.

Michaella’s boyfriend, German tennis player Martin Emmrich, appears on the court right after her victory. You can see she’s confused, and he’s emotional. He proposes, she says yes, the ring slips onto the right finger, they cry, they hug, the crowd goes wild. The video goes viral and the proposal makes news around the world.


Most people saw a romantic marriage proposal on a tennis court. But not me.

What I saw was a (lovely, loving, well-intentioned) man stealing a professionally glorious moment from his beloved. What I saw was two life-defining events crashing into one another messily. Michaella was extremely happy and they’re obviously very much in love…

But did the proposal really have to be in front of everyone, immediately after her victory, when they both should have been celebrating her success? Why couldn’t he make her his fiancee another day?

It’s not like they’re Kanye and Kim; there’s no real reason their proposal needed to be so public. It would have been just as lovely if it happened while they were unpacking the dishwasher in their kitchen at home. But as it is, Michaella and Martin’s moment isn’t just their own; it belongs to every news outlet in the world. Doesn’t that destroy the loveliness?

My mama, as always, had something wise to say about public proposals: “The bigger the gesture, the smaller the man.” The grander the proposal, the weaker the relationship. Love is magnificent on its own, it shouldn’t need an audience or a million hits online.

It should be about forever love between two people. Not quick fame before the world. And certainly not directly following a woman’s Hillary or Wimbledon moment. No no.

Public proposals. Yes or no? Do you have a proposal story?