This Monday the Finals of the Billie Jean King Cup start in Prague, as the Federation Cup is now called, the competition by countries that Spain won five times, in 1991, 93, 94, 95 and 98. The National Team participates in this edition that opens a format, with 18 teams, group stage, semifinals and final. It will not be easy for them to emulate those successes that had as great protagonists Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Conchita Martínez, the two best tennis players the Navy has had so far.
Both are legends of the old Fed Cup. Arantxa (Barcelona, 49 years old) holds the records for the most total victories (72) and individual victories (50)., ahead of the second best, Conchita (Monzón, 49), who won 68 and 47, respectively. Together they have the best record for doubles wins in this event as a couple, 18. This is how they raised those five trophies in the golden age of Spanish women’s tennis that Garbiñe Muguruza and Paula Badosa now aspire to imitate, although they will not be in Prague, because they prioritized the preparation of the WTA Finals that are held from November 10 to 17. Sánchez Vicario had a successful career, with 29 titles, four of them Grand Slam (Roland Garros 1989, 94 and 96, and US Open 1994), plus four other majors finals (Australia 1994 and 95, and Wimbledon 1995 and 96). In addition, it was number one in the world in 1995.
Martinez lifted 33 WTA trophies, was the 1994 Wimbledon champion and played the Australian finals in 1998., Roland Garros in 2000 and the US Open in 1995 and 96. Their best ranking was two, in 1995. In addition, both shone in the Olympic Games, with two medals in doubles in common (1992 and 96). Arantxa was also bronze in the singles of 1992 and silver in Atlanta 1996. And Conchita won silver in Athens 2004 with Vivi Ruano.
The Calvary of Arantxa
And what happened to these two legends? Well, they channeled their lives in a divergent way. Arantxa retired in 2002, although she returned in 2004 to play doubles and be an Olympian for the last time. In 2012 she was captain of the Spanish Federation Cup team, but did not add any victory during her tenure. At that point he had already had his first personal problems, in a complicated private life that started badly, with a failed marriage with journalist Joan Vehils, which lasted a year. In 2008 she married a second marriage to Josep Santacana, a businessman and former tennis player with whom she spent ten years and gave birth to two children, Arantxa and Leo, although they had a bad ending with courts in between. Meanwhile he had a serious conflict with the Treasury for alleged tax fraud in 1989 and 1993 for which she was sentenced to pay almost three and a half million euros plus court costs.
Sánchez Vicario had established his residence in Andorra to pay less taxes, a move that he blamed on the advice of his parents, which he accused in an autobiography of ruining it for his mismanagement and keeping all his money. Later, she apologized, citing the influence of her ex-husband in those accusations. “Many things could have been avoided. I already asked for forgiveness in his day, when I had to, because I think it got out of hand. Obviously if it had not been a public person, it would not have happened how it happened. I am human, asking for forgiveness is difficult, but I have already done it and my family already knows it. Now to look ahead. What was done, the present will change, I try to continue fighting, “he said in an interview for the show Stick and splinter, from the Sixth with Mamen Mendizábal.
She was recently accused of a crime of property hoarding to avoid paying 5.2 million to the Treasury and admitted his guilt not to enter prison. For the rest, she has continued to be linked to tennis through competitions for legends at Grand Slams and other events. Her financial situation is currently quite different from what she had as a player. To earn a living he teaches tennis at a Miami school, where he resides and acts sporadically as a commentator on American television networks. He relies on his brother Emilio, who is also in the United States, and his mother, with which he was reconciled. His father died more than three years ago.
A quieter life
Conchita’s life has been more peaceful. After retiring in 2006, she was captain of the Federation Cup in 2013 and also of the Davis Cup in 2015, combining both positions. Thus she became the first female coach of a men’s tennis team. Later he occasionally trained Garbiñe Muguruza, due to the temporary absence of Frenchman Sam Sumyk, and with great success, since together they won Wimbledon in 2015. After a short-lived, but fruitful and pleasant collaboration, With the Czech Karolina Pliskova, since 2020 she has been acting as coach of the Caracas, current number nine in the world, on a stable basis. “I am in a good moment of my career and with an important opportunity,” he told AS last December.
He also worked for a few years as a tennis commentator on Eurosport and Canal +. And she maintained, even when she was a player, a romantic relationship with former American tennis player Gigi Fernández. She lives between Barcelona and California (she has a house in San Diego), always away from the media noise (“It is difficult for me to talk about myself, but I like being serious and being organized,” she said. in an interview for The country), practicing various sports, such as golf, which he likes a lot, and jealously guarding his privacy, so little is known about that more personal side of him. Last year she received the honor of being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame, along with Croatian Goran Ivanisevic. He has two older brothers and his parents are still living.
Arantxa and Conchita, good friends and also rivals on the circuit (they faced each other 18 times with a balance of 14-4 for the first one), They were losing contact, although they maintain a cordial and loving relationship, and see each other “from time to time at tournaments”, according to the Aragonese in El Semanal. Together they made history. Unforgettable.