Spanish tennis is celebrating in London. Manolo Santana’s victory at Wimbledon in 1966 is one of the most significant points in the history of this sport and that is why a large number of players, both active and retired, wanted to pay homage to the Director of the Mutua Madrid Open on the 50th anniversary of his triumph at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
“In Spain there are 3 or 4 sportsmen who are the forefathers that sowed the seeds for individual sport. Manolo is, without a doubt, one of the most important. Together with Severiano Ballesteros and Angel Nieto, they set the path in Spanish sport. I wasn’t able to see him play, but my Uncle Toni did, and he always talked to me about him. Everyone in Spanish tennis is grateful to him for everything he did and still continues to do”.
“I would like to congratulate Manolo on this anniversary and for everything he has done and continues to do for Spanish tennis. He is without doubt a role model for all of us who follow in his footsteps”.
“Manolo showed that there was something more in Spain than just football. From what my parents and grandparents told me, at that time there was Real Madrid, Manolo Santana, Angel Nieto and not much else. Winning Wimbledon is what set Manolo apart from the other great tennis players. He has always maintained his ties to the world of tennis, first as a Davis Cup captain and then as the Director of the Mutua Madrid Open. I have a lot of affection for him and I am glad he is able to celebrate the 50th anniversary here”.
“Santana was a pioneer in Spanish tennis, bringing it closer to the people with his victories. Winning Wimbledon for the first time was the most important win of his career. A Spaniard on grass! In Spain nobody even knew about these courts”.
“Winning the most prestigious tournament in the world, Wimbledon, at a time when tennis was not a popular sport in Spain, was a revolution. Manolo became a legend of our country, laying the road for us and earning himself a place among the elite of world tennis”.
“Manolo is a legend in our sport. He is someone who is very well respected, not just in the world of tennis, but also in sport in general, someone with a lot of elegance and class, a sense of humour, very affable with people, friendly and kind. Manolo defined an era. It was a turning point in the belief and faith in Spanish tennis in winning Grand Slams and for us he has always been a role model. It is a privilege to be by his side and share good times and above all to have him as someone who has always helped our sport to be bigger.
“Manolo was a pioneer, like Seve in golf and Fernando Alonso in Formula 1; someone who laid the path in a time when tennis was somewhat unknown to the Spanish people. It must have been taboo for a Spaniard to win on the grass of Wimbledon. In any sport there always has to be someone who breaks down barriers and pushes the boundaries and Manolo was the one who did it for Spanish tennis. A lot of us who were tennis players have to thank him, as our parents undoubtedly became fans because of Manolo. Spanish tennis is in Santana’s debt”.
Juan Carlos Ferrero:
“Manolo was a pioneer in a sport that you barely saw in Spain. He was the first one to raise the bar and take tennis to the television and make it known. We owe him everything and the players are very grateful to him and we have a special affection for him. We congratulate him for having won Wimbledon and for everything that he has achieved since”.
“On the 50th anniversary of Manolo Santana’s victory at Wimbledon, he must be congratulated for the doors he opened. For the excitement created in our country, for the example to follow that is still there and for being a role model for all of us who share dreams on the court. Pioneers are those who sow the seeds for the following generation, and in that sense Manolo is one of our biggest personalities. Thank you Manolo!”
“Manolo is a role model, one of the biggest in our sport and an example to follow. He sacrificed a lot in order to be able to win Wimbledon and in that time his victory was pioneering. Although we belong to different eras of tennis, I have been lucky enough to be able to spend time with him and he has always demonstrated off the court that he is a true champion”.
“He is a legend of the sport. My relationship with him has always been very good. I am very happy about everything that he did in his time. I wasn’t around to witness it, but he was the player who kick-started tennis in Spain in his day. I’m very happy about what he achieved and that now he can celebrate the 50th anniversary here”.
“Someone called Manolo a magician on the clay, what his opponents weren’t expecting was for him to also become the king of grass by winning Wimbledon, a true privilege for Spanish sport”.
“Not only do I admire Manolo for what he did in the past, but also for what he continues to do in the present. As the director of a WTA tournament in Madrid he has been a driving force behind women’s tennis in Spain. I would like to congratulate him on such a special anniversary at Wimbledon”.
“Manolo was the holder of the key that opened the door to all the current success in Spanish tennis, the man who helped give Spanish sportsmen belief. 50 years ago Spanish sport became international and we have all benefitted from Manolo Santana, a pioneer”.
“Manolo is one of the main role models in our tennis and his victory at Wimbledon was a turning point for tennis in Spain. I still remember I had a photo he had signed on my beside table table and I always had him in my mind”.
“Manolo was the driving force behind tennis in Spain. Thanks to him a lot of people got to know this sport and based on that we produced players that are still bearing fruit today. He is remembered because of Wimbledon but he also won other Grand Slams, and he was a greater Davis Cup leader. Personally Manolo has taught me a lot. On a tennis level he was my captain when I played Davis Cup, but on a personal level he has been vital to me, as thanks to him I started to work at the best clay ATP tournament in the world, the Mutua Madrid Open. He has guided me a huge amount, as it was a new role for me. Just spending hours by his side at the tournament, you learn a lot. Everyone respects and loves Manolo. For the players that are no longer active he is without a doubt the best ambassador for our tennis around the world. He deserves this tribute and any others that are made to him. He is a tennis great!”.
“He is the person who introduced tennis to Spain. I think that all of us who have dedicated ourselves to tennis have to thank him for what he did, because without his success, everything that came afterwards maybe wouldn’t exist. We should also thank him for the fact that he has stayed in tennis: he was a Davis Cup captain, he is the Director of the Mutua Madrid Open, he has a tennis club… In other words, he has put in a lot of hard work to make this sport bigger. Whenever he sees me he always jokes “I find it incredible that a guy from Cuenca can play tennis” and he affectionately calls me “the one from Cuenca”. He is an endearing person for whom it is impossible not to have affection, as he is always there to help in any way he can”.
It has been 50 years since he made history. For me Manolo is a phenomenon, I have always admired his philosophy of life. Personally, he helped me a lot in his day and I have always seen him helping the young guys. He has done everything he can for tennis and I hope he really enjoys this anniversary because he deserves it.
“Manolo is not just a pioneer but a legend of the past, he is someone who continues to fight every day for the present and for the future of our tennis. We owe him so much”.