Hayden Panettiere and her longtime boyfriend Wladimir Klitschko have announced that they are engaged to be married. The “Nashville” star coyly broke the news on a Wednesday appearance on “Live with Kelly & Michael,” confirming that she and Klitschko plan to tie the knot, but have not yet set a date.
Panettiere appeared on the segment sporting a diamond ring, and when asked about it by co-host Kelly Ripa, said that it “spoke for itself.” As Panettiere handled a snake, Ripa asked, “I'm sort of distracted, not just by the snake, but there's a very large diamond ring on your ring finger… I'm not sure if you want to announce anything... Does that signify anything, is that a promise of something?” “It might be,” Panettiere answered. “I mean, I think it speaks for itself.”
Yet when she was cornered again by a more direct Ripa, who asked her “Are you engaged?,” Panettiere answered simply, “I am.” However, she said she has not yet settled on a date due to how busy she is.
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Panettiere’s fiancé Wladimir Klitschko, who has dated the petite actress on-and-off for nearly three years, is an impressive figure in his own right. The 37-year-old Ukrainian heavyweight boxing champion, nicknamed “Dr. Steelhammer,” has amassed a 61-3 record since his professional debut in 1996. According to Forbes, he ranked No. 41 in a list of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes in 2013, bringing in earnings of approximately $24 million, $5 million of which reportedly came from endorsement deals.
The unlikely duo, who have a 13-year age difference and a 1’4” height difference, met in 2008 at a party hosted by a mutual friend. They dated steadily until May 2011, when the challenges of long distance and conflicting schedules allegedly became too much. Panettiere issued a statement shortly after that breakup saying that they planned to stay “close friends,” and Klitschko soon after added, “We have had a great time together. But more and more we realized how difficult it is to maintain a relationship when living on two continents. I cherish Hayden as a person and woman and I’m sure we’ll stay friends.”
When they reconnected in 2013, Panettiere told Glamour, “it’s like the 2.0 version.”
"I've always had great relationships and stayed really good friends with the guys I've dated. It blows my mind sometimes that us getting together has gotten so much attention,” she said. “It's like, really? This is breaking news?"
When asked about whether having children is a goal of hers, Panettiere revealed, “Motherhood is the most beautiful, exciting thing, and there’s nothing that I feel like I can’t accomplish while having children in my life. I would sacrifice having more years of being wherever I want whenever I want for years with my kids.”
Rumors that the couple were headed for a trip down the aisle have been floating around for months. In March, a friend of Panettiere and Klitschko’s told Us Weekly that the two had secretly gotten engaged but were trying to keep their plans low profile, and that Panettiere hadn’t begun to wear her ring in public yet. A rep for Panettiere confirmed the news to ABC News.