Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sanchez-Vicario inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame

Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, the woman Bud Collins nicknamed the Barcelona Bumblebee, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame today. The first Spanish woman to win the U.S. Open (1994), Sanchez-Vicario won the French Open three times, and she also holds ten Grand Slam doubles titles--six women's and four mixed. The indefatigable Spaniard also holds twenty-nine WTA career singles titles and sixty-seven doubles titles. She was on the tour for sixteen years, guiding Spain to all five of its Fed Cup victories, and--with two bronze and two silver medals--is the most decorated Olympian in Spanish history.

The Barcelona Bumblebee was probably the counter-puncher of all time on the women's tour, keeping her opponents on the court until all hours in lengthy rallies, in which she covered an amazing amount of ground. She was also the nemesis of the two greatest players of her generation--Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.

In recent years, Sanchez-Vicario, who speaks five languages fluently, has continued to play an active role in tennis. It was she who first noticed Russian star Svetlana Kuznetsova, who trained at Spain's famed Sanchez-Casal Academy (co-founded by Sanchez-Vicario's brother, a former doubles champion). Sanchez-Vicario put Kuznetsova in touch with Martina Navratilova and they became doubles partners. Kuznetsova credits much of her rise in the sport to the mentoring she received from both Navratilova and Sanchez-Vicario.

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