Sánchez Vicario started playing tennis at the age of four, when she followed her older brothers Emilio Sánchez and Javier Sánchez (both of whom became professional players) to the court and hit balls against the wall with her first racquet. As a 17-year-old, she became the youngest winner of the women's singles title at the 1989 French Open, defeating World No. 1 Steffi Graf in the final. (Monica Seles broke the record the following year when she won the title at age 16.)
Sánchez Vicario quickly developed a reputation on the tour for her tenacity and refusal to concede a point. Commentator Bud Collins described her as "unceasing in determined pursuit of tennis balls, none seeming too distant to be retrieved in some manner and returned again and again to demoralize opponents" and nicknamed her the "Barcelona Bumblebee".
She won six women's doubles Grand Slam titles, including the US Open in 1993 (with Helena Suková) and Wimbledon in 1995 (with Jana Novotná). She also won four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. In 1991, she helped Spain win its first-ever Fed Cup title, and helped Spain win the Fed Cup in 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1998. Sanchez Vicario holds the records for the most matches won by a player in Fed Cup competition (72) and for most ties played (58).
Sánchez Vicario was also a member of the Spanish teams that won the Hopman Cup in 1990 and 2002.
Over the course of her career, Sánchez Vicario won 29 singles titles and 69 doubles titles before retiring in November 2002. She came out of retirement in 2004 to play doubles in a few select tournaments as well as the 2004 Summer Olympics, where she became the only tennis player to play in five Olympics in the Games history. Sanchez Vicario is the most decorated Olympian in Spanish history with four medals – two silver and two bronze.
In 2005, TENNIS Magazine put her in 27th place in its list of 40 Greatest Players of the TENNIS era and in 2007, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She was only the third Spanish player (and the first Spanish woman) to be inducted.
In 2009, Sánchez Vicario was present at the opening ceremony of Madrid's Caja Mágica, the new venue for the Madrid Masters. The second show court is named Court Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in her honour.
Read more about this topic: Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
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