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Arantxa Sánchez Vicario

Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 1998

Born into the bosom of a tennis-playing family, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (Barcelona, Spain, 1971 - ) is the best female tennis player Spain has ever had. During her sporting career, she reached the WTA number 1 ranking, in 1995. She has won four Grand Slam singles titles, six doubles titles and four mixed doubles titles, in addition to four Olympic medals and five Federation Cup titles with the Spanish team. She was the youngest Spanish tennis player ever to win the national title in 1985, at only thirteen years of age, and the only one to top the world’s women’s tennis ranking, for a few weeks in 1995 . She has also been one of the only three tennis players in the world to top the WTA rankings simultaneously in singles and doubles. She won her first Grand Slam tournament in 1989, at only seventeen years of age, defeating Steffi Graff in the Roland Garros final. In 1994, a historic year for Spanish tennis on account of the titles achieved both by her and Conchita Martinez and Sergi Bruguera, she won the Roland Garros tournament once again, as well as the US Open. That same year, she was named the World’s Women’s Tennis Champion by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). In 1998, she won the French tournament for the third time, thereby completing her quartet of Grand Slam singles titles. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario also formed part of the Spanish teams that won the Hopman Cup in 1990 and 2002.

She has represented Spain in five editions of the Olympic Games, namely in Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Athens, winning two silver and two bronze medals. She announced her retirement from tennis in November 2002. However, she returned in 2004 to play in some doubles tournaments and so as to participate in what were to be her fifth Olympic Games. In 2012, she competed once more as captain of the Federation Cup team alongside coach Gabriel Urpí. However, she did not achieve a single victory of the Spanish equipment in this post and, after scant involvement with the team, was encouraged by the Spanish Tennis Federation to resign.

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