Not part of her plan. It wasn’t love at first sight for Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev, but they eventually got their happy ending.
Bella, 36, opened up about the early days of her relationship with her former Dancing With the Stars partner, 38, while speaking to Lisa Vanderpump on the latest episode of “The Bellas Podcast.” The SUR owner, 60, reminisced about competing with Gleb Savchenko on season 16 of the ABC reality show in 2013, four years before Bella hit the ballroom for season 25.
While getting intimate with her dance partner was “the best part” of the experience for Vanderpump, Bella admitted that she was “uncomfortable” doing some of the steps because she was engaged to ex John Cena at the time.
“I remember the one thing that was awkward for me — I don’t know if you remember in some of [the] dance moves — when their leg had to be in between your leg,” the former pro wrestler said on Wednesday, October 14. “I remember … it was the first time a man’s leg, other than my fiancé’s was in between mine and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ It was weird.”
The Total Bellas star began dating Cena, 43, in 2012 and the duo got engaged five years later. In April 2018, Us Weekly broke the news that the couple called off their engagement and canceled their wedding, which was set to take place the next month.
As the women reflected on their DWTS memories, Vanderpump said she grew “very close” with her partner, who made her feel safe when she was “totally out of my comfort zone” on the dance floor. Bella, for her part, didn’t feel a physical attraction to her now-fiancé during their time as ballroom partners.
“You definitely get an emotional bond with them because it is so scary … I’ve never been that nervous before,” she said. “That’s the crazy thing being with [Artem] now is there were none of those feelings at all.”
In January 2019, Bella made her relationship with the Russian dancer official. One year later, they announced their engagement via Instagram — and revealed that they were expecting their first child together weeks later. Bella gave birth to their baby boy, Matteo, in July.
Competing on DWTS gave the retired athlete more than just a newfound sense of confidence. It also gave her a family — and she would do it all again in a heartbeat.
“It was the first time I was ever vulnerable, even with a man, because I was always such a strong, independent woman,” the Incomparable author said on Wednesday. “I wish I could do it again because I couldn’t take in the moment of the dance being beautiful because I was thinking of my steps the whole time. I wish I could’ve taken in those moments but then where I got the bond was just having to depend on him. And I had never had to depend on a man before.”
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