Jeffrey Slonim
May 20, 2008 02:10 PM

Persistence has paid off for Andy Roddick – especially where love is concerned.

The tennis star’s fiancée, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker, describes the athlete’s early attention toward her as unrelenting and unrequited. “I was stalked,” Decker joked on Monday at the American Ballet Theatre Spring Gala in New York. “He’ll tell you that.”

But she added, “It was charming. He was charming. Eventually, I fell for it, and five months later I called him back and that was that.”

Decker says that their first date was “a comedy show and dinner. He’s hilarious. He makes me laugh more than anyone.”

Though Decker describes herself as “pretty athletic,” she’s still learning tennis. “I’m taking lessons,” she says. “But I’m certainly not a pro.”

Showing off the sizable rock on her finger, Decker told PEOPLE, “It’s weird having it on, but now I feel strange without it.”

As for when Roddick and Decker will exchange vows, the couple, who got engaged in March, will make it official next year. “We’re in the planning process. This has been the happiest time. I’m very much a tomboy and this is being a total girl, being with my friends and my mom. We’re shopping for a dress right now.”

And how did Roddick react to his fiancé and the rest of the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? “Of course he enjoyed it,” Decker said. “He’s a guy. We go through every page and say, ‘She’s pretty. She’s nice. A lot of them are my friends so he’s looking at his friends as well.”

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