Wednesday saw Manuel Santana Martínez officially honoured with a posthumous Gold Medal of the City of Madrid for his personal and sporting achievements. The honour, one of Spain’s most prestigious, was bestowed upon him between the walls of the Mutua Madrid Open that he helped create.
The Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, presented the honour to Claudia Rodríguez, Manolo Santana’s widow. Figures such as Ion Tiriac, Rafael Nadal, Feliciano López, Carlos Moyà, Marc López, David Nalbandian and Carlos Costa were gathered on the clay.
The Madrid City Council Plenary, held on 26 April 2022, unanimously agreed to recognise Manuel Santana with the distinction. He will go down in history as one of the pioneers of Spanish sport, a four-time Grand Slam champion and a visible figurehead of tennis before the arrival of the professional era.
The event took place on the clay of the Manolo Santana Stadium, the Mutua Madrid Open’s centre court, named after the Spaniard, following Rafa Nadal’s opening match in the competition. The emotional ceremony was met with a standing ovation and images were shown to honour the memory of the legend.
On 11 December 2021, we said goodbye to Manolo, the architect of the birth, consolidation and success of the Mutua Madrid Open as one of the biggest events on the professional tennis tour. His legacy on the courts, as a pioneer of Spanish sport, and off them, as an ambassador and leader, led Spanish tennis into a new dimension.