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Former world No. 1 Sanchez-Vicario retires

November 13, 2002

BARCELONA, Spain (Ticker) - Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, a former world No. 1 and a winner of four Grand Slam titles, announced her retirement on Tuesday.

Sanchez-Vicario confirmed her departure from the WTA Tour at a press conference near her native Barcelona.

"It's not been easy, but I think the time has come for me to abandon tennis," she said at her packed press conference, which was held at her family-owned Open Sports Club. "My motives are personal. Up to now, all my life has been tennis. It's been a great effort, but in exchange I have got what any professional sports person could want."

After turning professional in June 1985, the 30-year-old won 29 tournaments, including the French Open three times and the U.S. Open once. She appeared in eight other major finals.

"I want to remember all of the marvellous moments that I had the opportunity to live, and enjoy finishing my career with a smile of gratitude for all the people that made my professional career possible," a tearful Sanchez-Vicario said.

Sanchez-Vicario earned the nickname, "the Barcelona Bumblebee" for her buzzing, tenacious style. Her older brothers Emilio and Javier Sanchez competed on the men's tour, with Emilio coaching her after he retired.

In 1988, Sanchez-Vicario won her first title at the Belgian Open at age 16 years, 11 months. A year later, she upset Steffi Graf, 7-6 (10-8), 3-6, 7-5, in the French Open final to become the first Spanish woman to win at Roland Garros. At the time, she was the youngest French Open champion at 17 years, six months.

The Spaniard won the French and U.S. Opens in 1994 and became the No. 1 player on February 6, 1995. She did not win a Grand Slam title that year, but reached the final at the first three majors.

Sanchez-Vicario once held the top ranking in both singles and doubles simultaneously. She captured 67 doubles titles and several mixed doubles crowns.

In her most recent competitive appearance, Sanchez-Vicario was part of the Spanish team that lost to Slovakia in the Federation Cup finals earlier this month. She lost the deciding match to Janette Husarova, 6-0, 6-2.

However, she did set records for most Fed Cup matches (100), most Fed Cup ties (58) and most Fed Cup finals appearances (10, shared with Conchita Martinez. She helped Spain win the competition five times and collected four medals at four Olympics.

Sanchez-Vicario did not win a title this year, with her best result a runner-up finish at the French Community Championships in June. She completed the season ranked 54th.

Sanchez-Vicario's opponents remembered her fondly.

"Thinking of Arantxa, so many incredible matches come to my mind," said Graf, who led their rivalry, 28-8. "She has given so much to tennis - her competitiveness on the court and her willpower, but always with that great smile. She has made history and I wish her all the best."

"Arantxa has been a great player for such a long time," said Martina Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1. "I have played her many times in my career. I wish her all the best in her new life outside tennis."
http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/news/20021112/sanchezvicarioretire.html
 

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Tennis Legends Pay Tribute To Sanchez-Vicario
Former world No.1 and Grand Slam champion announces retirement
November 12, 2002




BARCELONA, Spain - One of the Open era's most successful female tennis players, Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario brought down the curtain on her 17-year career on Tuesday, officially retiring from the Sanex WTA Tour.

Winner of 29 singles and 67 doubles titles, Sánchez-Vicario won four Grand Slam singles titles and 14 majors overall, holding the No.1 ranking in both singles and doubles (simultaneously in 1995) and amassed nearly US$17 million in official prize money.

'The reasons for my decision are solely personal,' said a tearful Sánchez-Vicario at a press conference in Barcelona, Tuesday. 'I feel that it's time for me to develop other aspects of my life. Until now all my life was concentrated around tennis and this demands a lot of effort and exclusive dedication, but in return I have achieved everything that an athlete can dream: acknowledgement, victories and a lot of affection.'

'Thinking of Arantxa, so many incredible matches come my mind. She has given so much to tennis - her competitiveness on the court and her willpower, but always with that great smile. She has made history and I wish her all the best.'
STEFFI GRAF - former world No.1 and 22-time Grand Slam singles champion
'Arantxa has been a great player for such a long time. I have played her many times in my career, and the first time I played against her I was only 16 (1996 Hilton Head, won by Sánchez-Vicario in three sets). I wish her all the best in her new life outside tennis.'
MARTINA HINGIS - five-time Grand Slam champion and youngest-ever world No.1

Sánchez-Vicario burst to prominence in 1989, becoming the first Spaniard to win the Roland Garros singles title, upsetting world No.1 Steffi Graf in an epic three-set final. She would go on to win two more titles at Roland Garros (1994 and 1998), as well as the 1994 US Open title. In addition, she reached singles finals at the other two Grand Slams, at Wimbledon in 1995 and 1996 and the Australian Open in 1994 and 1995.

Between February and June 1995, Sánchez-Vicario held the world No.1 singles ranking for a total of 12 weeks, the first and so far only Spanish woman to hold the prestigious mantle. She also remained ranked amongst the world's Top 10 virtually uninterrupted for 10 years (1989 to 1999).

'I want to remember all of the marvellous moments that I had the opportunity to live, and enjoy finishing my career with a smile of gratitude for all the people that made my professional career possible,' she added.

'Each tournament was important for me in every moment, and to become the world's No.1-ranked woman tennis player, winning three Roland Garros titles, one US Open, five Fed Cups (for Spain) and four Olympic medals was more than I could have ever dreamed of.

'Leaving professional tennis was not an easy decision for me, but I sincerely believe that the moment has come to me for face it. I consider myself privileged in all aspects. My family stood beside me unconditionally throughout my career, I have not had many injuries, I was able to achieve professional success, I was supported by my friends, the media has treated me with the highest respect and they gave me the support that is needed for every professional. That's all an athlete can ask for!

'From this moment I want to live life outside of the tennis courts in order to achieve being happy, serve the society as another citizen and to be able to have a private life just like any other person. Thank you for all your understanding and I hope that you have understood my need to relax and to organise my life away from the competition, in the most normal, possible way.'


ARANTXA SÁNCHEZ-VICARIO - CAREER IN REVIEW

Sanex WTA Tour singles titles: 29
Sanex WTA Tour doubles titles: 67
Grand Slam titles: 14 Singles - 4
Roland Garros - 1989, 1994, 1998
US Open - 1994
Doubles - 6; Mixed Doubles - 4
Career-high Sanex WTA singles ranking: No.1 (6-19 February, 27 February - 9 April,
15 May - 11 June 1995)
Career-high Sanex WTA doubles ranking: No.1 (19 October - 15 November 1992;
13-26 February, 27 March - 5 November 1995;
13 November 1995 - 6 April 1997)



FAST FACTS

One of only five women to have won more than 700 singles matches in her career
Her US$16,917,312 in career earnings ranks her No.4 all-time behind only Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis
She won at least one singles title every year for nine consecutive years (1988-1996)
Competed in 43 consecutive Grand Slams and 58 in total, the most among all current players on the Sanex WTA Tour
Won two silver and two bronze Olympic medals, more than any other Spanish athlete
Led Spain to its first five Fed Cup victories, in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1998
http://www.sanexwta.com/index.cfm?section=main&cont_id=144098
 
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