After Manuel Santana, one of Spain’s greatest sporting icons, died at the age of 83 on Saturday in Marbella, the tennis community expressed its condolences.
Santana was one of the most important athletes in Spain in the twentieth century, establishing himself as a pioneer by winning four Grand Slam titles (Roland Garros 1961, 1964; Wimbledon 1966; United States Open 1965), among other great conquests. He is now Honorary President of the Madrid Open, after serving as its director since 2002.
Rafael Nadal, a 20-time major champion, expressed appreciation to the news on Twitter, writing: “You will always be unique and exceptional. As I’ve stated before, a thousand thanks for everything you’ve done for our country and for paving the path for others. You’ve always been a role model for me, a friend, and someone who was close to us all.”
Billie Jean King, a sports legend, wrote: “Manolo Santana, the legendary guitarist, has died. In 1966, he and I won our first Wimbledon singles crowns (he was the first Spanish man to win the title). At the ball, we danced the first dance. He was passionate about the sport, and we had numerous chats about it over the years. My heartfelt condolences to his family.”
“I’m heartbroken to learn of the demise of one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, who also excelled at our beautiful sport of tennis. Senor Manolo Santana, #TennisHallOfFame, was a master and a gentleman on and off the court “Martina Navratilova, who has won 59 major titles, wrote.
Santana was a cornerstone of Spain’s Davis Cup squad, collecting a 69-17 win-loss record in singles between 1958 and 1973. He came from a humble household at a time when tennis was regarded a pastime mainly for the upper classes in Spain.