Spanish tennis legends presented with HoF rings

April 22, 2011

NEWPORT, R.I. — Having captured major titles, earned Olympic medals and represented Spain proudly and successfully in Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Andres Gimeno and Manolo Santana truly earned their status among the most beloved athletes in their nation, and some of the most successful in the world. In recognition of their achievements, the three stars have already been honored with the highest honor in the sport – induction to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In a special ceremony today at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, this achievement was celebrated once again when they were presented with a one-of-a-kind Hall of Fame ring. Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and Mark L. Stenning, CEO, traveled to Barcelona to present the rings.

“Arantxa, Andres and Manolo have won the most coveted titles in tennis and have achieved rankings among the best players in the sport, while serving as ambassadors for tennis worldwide. They have inspired many, and as a nation, Spain has always shown great appreciation and enthusiasm for the sport of tennis. We are very pleased to recognize their contributions during this important Spanish tournament,” said Clouser. “As Hall of Famers, Arantxa, Andres and Manolo are among an elite group of athletes and contributors. We are pleased to be able to recognize this achievement with this special ring, which only the most successful and influential individuals in tennis will have the honor of wearing.”

Located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is an organization that is dedicated to preserving the worldwide history of tennis and honoring the greatest athletes and contributors to the sport. Each year, this Museum honors several additional individuals. Being honored in this Museum is based on the sum of an individual’s success — such as the number of victories or rankings and sportsmanship, or based on their great contributions as coaches and administrators. At the Museum in Newport, there is a great collection of art, fashion, equipment, and memorabilia which showcases the history of tennis and the accomplishments of each of these Hall of Famers.

Since 1955, the Hall of Fame has honored 218 individuals from 19 nations — a testament to the global popularity of tennis. In addition to Spaniards Sanchez-Vicario, Gimeno and Santana, Manuel Alonso, who is deceased, has also achieved Hall of Fame status.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum also recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact in the growth of tennis worldwide. Several Spanish individuals have received this honor, including Juan Maria Tintore and Pablo Llorens, who were presented with the Golden Achievement Award for their commitment to tennis. In addition, Conchita Martinez, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, and Miguel Margets have been honored with the Fed Cup Award of Excellence, which is presented to those who truly embody the spirit of the Fed Cup competitions. Similarly, Manuel Orantes and Manolo Santana have been presented the Davis Cup Award of Excellence.

Former world No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario was one of the most dominant female tennis players of the 1990s. In 1989, at just 17 years old, Sanchez-Vicario became the first Spanish woman to capture a major title when she defeated Stefanie Graf at the French Open. The victory was just the start of her success, and she went on to win a remarkable 14 major titles. An Olympic silver and bronze medalist, Sanchez-Vicario played a vital role in sparking interest in tennis for Spanish woman. She was a member of four championship Fed Cup teams. Sanchez-Vicario was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.

Known for his incredible clay court skills, Manolo Santana’s tennis success kept him in the national spotlight throughout his career. In 1965, Santana led Spain to a 4-1 upset over the United States in Davis Cup, in a campaign that resulted in Spain making it to their first Davis Cup final ever. Two years later he drove Spain to the final once again, and earned the nation’s only point, by defeating John Newcombe. Santana’s commitment to and success in Davis Cup brought him much adoration from his countrymen, and in 1966, he became a national hero when he became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon. In total, he won five major titles and was ranked within the top 10 for seven years achieving No. 1 status in 1966. Santana has been an active contributor to tennis off the court as well, serving as a coach and tennis promoter. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1984.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Andres Gimeno was known as a solid, consistent player who had cracked the world top 10 on several occasions. In 1972, he significantly raised his profile when he captured the French Open title at 34 years old. To this day, he is still the oldest champion of that tournament. In addition, he reached the semi-finals or better at the Australian and Wimbledon. Gimeno was an active Davis Cup player, recording an 18-5 singles record. He was honored with Hall of Fame induction in 2009.

The newly developed Hall of Fame rings are being presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events around the world over the next several years to mark their achievement of Hall of Fame induction. The personalized rings bear a green stone set in gold, to complement the Hall of Fame’s brand colors. In addition, the rings are etched with each honoree’s name and induction year, and the Hall of Fame logo crest.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame rings have been generously underwritten by The Bruce T. Halle Family of Scottsdale, Arizona. Bruce, founder of Discount Tire, and his wife Diane, a philanthropist, are tennis enthusiasts and they have generously supported communities in the areas where Discount Tire is located, and beyond, for many years.

Additional International Tennis Hall of Fame rings will be presented at tennis events around the world in the coming years. Presently, there are 84 Hall of Famers living in 16 different countries, a testament to the global reach of the game. Upcoming ring presentations are scheduled for the Hall of Fame Weekend in Newport, which celebrates Hall of Fame Induction, and at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles.