“I said, ‘You’re huge.’ He said, ‘You’re tiny,’” the Heroes alum recalled of the twosome’s first meeting during a November 2013 appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. “That’s God telling us we’re too far on either side of the spectrum. He needs to make normal people. … He’s got bowlegs, I’ve got knock knees, so they’re going to have straight legs, [and will] be normal height.”
After connecting with the former professional boxer in 2009, Panettiere started dating him on and off through 2011. The pair eventually reconciled and were spotted packing on the PDA in March 2013. Later that month, Us Weekly confirmed that the Ukraine native had proposed.
“Very few people know, and she isn’t wearing her ring publicly yet,” a source previously told Us. “Looks like a summer wedding!”
Amid their engagement, Us broke the news in May 2014 that Panettiere was expecting their first child. Daughter Kaya was born that December. The duo eventually called off their engagement in August 2018.
Since then, the duo have “[gotten] along” as coparents to raise Kaya, who primarily resides with the former athlete in his native Ukraine. Panettiere, for her part, frequently visited her daughter in person and organized FaceTime calls.
“We’re still respectful of each other, and we still have that friendship with each other,” the Nashville alum exclusively opened up to Us in January 2019. “It’s not a situation that you find yourself in all that often, so it’s a new one. But I think we’ve done a really good job.”
Panettiere later moved on with actor Brian Hickerson after her breakup from Klitschko. Hickerson was eventually arrested for domestic violence in May 2019 after an alleged altercation with the actress. A protective order was put in place following a court hearing after Hickerson plead not guilty. One year later, he changed to a no contest plea regarding two of the counts.
“Wlad will be very protective,” a source exclusively told Us after Panettiere’s protective order was granted. “Wlad still has plans to allow Hayden to [see] Kaya. But Brian will never be there. He will not be involved. … [Wladimir] has been truly amazing. He feels this behavior is unbelievable, and [Brian] should be stopped. He is suffering as her whole family and friends are.”
As the pair continued to coparent Kaya, her safety made headlines in February 2022 amid Russia’s invasion of their democratic neighbor.
“She’s safe and not in Ukraine 👍,” the Scream 4 actress wrote via Instagram comment at the time after being asked about her daughter’s whereabouts.
Several hours earlier, the New York native vocalized her support for Klitschko’s home country amid the news that he planned to volunteer with the Ukranian army.
“I have personally witnessed the strength of the Ukrainian people who fought so hard for their independence and have continued to passionately defend their country over the years,” Panettiere wrote via her social media upload at the time, alongside a photo with the Olympian. “What [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing is an absolute disgrace! This horrific moment in history sends a terrifying message: the message that in this day and age, in year 2022, it’s okay to violate the rights of free people and allow autocrats like Putin to take whatever they please.”
Scroll below to relive the former couple’s relationship journey: