All You Need to Know About Tennis Trailblazer Manuel Santana Who Died at the Age of 83

Published 12/12/2021, 2:44 AM EST
Manuel Santana

Manuel Santana Martinez was a former professional tennis player from Spain. Better known as Manolo Santana, he bagged four Grand Slam titles under his name. Santana accomplished a lot in his professional career, although tennis wasn’t the first sport he gravitated towards.

Manolo won a huge total of 69 titles in the span of his career. Moreover, to date, he remains the only player to triumph at Wimbledon other than Rafael Nadal. The legacy that Manuel Santana left behind will be surely cherished.

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Earlier career

Manuel Santana started his career as a ball boy and slowly grew in the game. However, he picked the tennis sport by pure luck.  “I saw men in pants playing tennis. I was immediately charmed. I started as a ball boy and then I started playing. In the end, I am an example of humility in an elitist world,” he quoted in a newspaper.

Steadily, the Spaniard started to win titles across the world. In 1965, Manolo took the charge of Team Spain and reached the finals of the Davis Cup. Subsequently, he became a National Hero for Spain. In his long tenure as a professional player, he captured 69 titles in the singles events.

Manuel Santana Martinez achieved a career-high ranking of World No. 1 for the first time in his professional career in 1965.

Grand Slam titles

In addition, he was also victorious at the French Open (1961, 1964), Wimbledon (1966), US Open (1965). Santana also lifted his only Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open 1963. Apart from Major Slams, Manuel Santana bagged the prestigious Olympic gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico.

The legend retired from the game in the year 1977. Soon after, Santana entered the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1984. Santana operated the Manolo Santana Racquets Club in Marbella, Spain, and the Sports Center Manolo Santana in Madrid after retiring.

Just recently, in 2020, Santana received the ITF Philippe Chatrier Award for his contributions both on and off the court to tennis.

The sad demise of the legend

On December 11, 2021, Manuel Santana sadly passed away at the age of 83. Big tennis players like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Billie Jean King, Carlos Moya, and many others shared their deepest condolences to the family that the Spanish legend left behind.

” The only other Spanish man to win Wimbledon. We will miss you. Thank you a thousand times for what you have done for our country and for having opened the way for so many people. You have always been a point of reference, a friend and a person very close to everyone,” wrote the 20-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal.

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Present World No. 1, Novak Djokovic also paid respect to the four-time Grand Slam winner.

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The contributions and support of Manuel Santana Martinez will be truly remembered. We express our condolences to his family and friends.

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Atri Bhatt

492 articles

Atri Bhatt is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. He is pursuing his Master's degree in Sports Management from Deakin University, Australia. In addition to critically analysing the game, he also plays tennis professionally.

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