Mary Lou Retton was dealing with secret personal problems during her time on Dancing with the Stars. Ahead of her elimination from the ABC celebrity ballroom competition, the five-time Olympic gold medalist revealed that she recently went through a divorce from her husband of 27 years, former University of Texas football quarterback Shannon Kelley. Retton married Kelley in 1990 and they have four daughters, according to People.
In a taped segment for DWTS, Retton opened up to pro partner Sasha Farber about her marital struggles.
“I went through a divorce. People don’t know that. It’s the first time I’ve actually said it publicly. After 27 years. …It’s very new. It was hard. I felt very alone.”
Retton revealed that she and her ex are still on good terms as they co-parent daughters Shayla, 23, McKenna, 21, Skyla, 18, and Emma, 16.
“It’s something that had really needed to happen for a long time. We still love one another, but we weren’t great together anymore.”
Retton and Kelley met after his freshman year at the University of Texas and dated when she began taking classes at the school the following fall. Kelley told Sports Illustrated he never felt intimated by Retton’s celebrity status.
“If she [had acted] that way, it would have only lasted one date,” he told SI.
Retton, who was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars after her Halloween-themed tango with Farber, later told Entertainment Tonight she’s ready for a “fresh start,” and that sharing her personal story makes her “feel lighter.”
“I had a platform to do it and I had been talking about all my struggles, and I was just very general. I was dancing and hoping to inspire women that was kind of my group that I was focused on, and I hope that helping someone out there tonight just by sharing my story.”
Mary Lou Retton admitted that after initially being scared, she is now “excited” to start over and that she is “open” to returning to the dating world after spending 30 years with her husband.
“That’s right, if you’re watching out there, this one is back on the market. Swipe right,” the Olympic gymnast teased.
Mary Lou Retton’s announcement that she has been divorced since February came as a surprise to many of her fans. The Olympic legend has been private about her personal life, so many fans didn’t see this news coming when she opened up to Farber as ABC’s cameras rolled.
While she danced her last as a mirrorball contender, Mary Lou Retton will return to Dancing with the Stars on finale night next month.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.