One of the greats of men’s tennis, Manuel ‘Manolo’ Santana has passed away aged 83 in Marbella.
Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic, Billie Jean King, Guillermo Vilas and many more from the world of tennis and beyond have paid tribute to the four-time Grand Slam singles champion.
Rafael Nadal, the King of Spain and the Spanish Prime Minister have led the tributes to Spanish tennis great Manuel ‘Manolo’ Santana who died aged 83 on Saturday.
Santana won Wimbledon (1966), two French Opens (1961, 1964) and a US Open (1965). He became a national hero after leading Spain to Davis Cup glory in 1965 and won a gold medal in the singles of the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. After retiring in 1980 Santana was a trainer, tournament promoter and senior circuit player.
Santana, who had been tournament director of the Madrid Open up until 2019 before he became an ATP honorary president, had been suffering with Parkinson’s disease.
Compatriot Nadal led the tributes to a Spanish sporting icon.
“As I have said many times in the past, a thousand thank yous for what you did for our country and for marking the way for so many,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion wrote on Twitter.
“You were always a benchmark, a friend and a person close to all of us. We will miss you Manolo. You were always unique and special.
“A hug to your family and a lot of strength at this time. We will never forget you.”
Felipe VI, King of Spain, posted on Twitter: “There are people who become legends and make a country great. Manolo Santana was and will always be one of them.”
Spanish PM Sanchez tweeted: ‘He won Roland Garros, the US Open and Wimbledon, 72 tournaments in total and an Olympic gold that turned him into a tennis legend and one of the best sportsmen in our country.
“My sincere condolences to Manolo Santana’s family, his loved ones and the world of tennis.”
The great Manolo Santana has passed away.
He & I won our 1st #Wimbledon singles titles in 1966 (he was the first Spanish man to win the title). We danced the 1st dance at the Ball.
He loved the sport, & we shared many conversations over the years.
Condolences to his family. pic.twitter.com/spGkz300m1
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 11, 2021
My thoughts are with good friend Manolo Santana, who has passed away. A clay court maestro, Manolo famously said grass was for cows, but still managed to win Wimbledon in 1966, and inspired generations of Spanish players with his renowned heavy topspin and fighting spirit. pic.twitter.com/6GzSbzDcPT
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) December 11, 2021
Heartbreaking to just get the news about Manolo Santana. Sending my deepest condolences and prayers to his family and all who loved him, which is so many. Thank you dear Manolo for paving the way, you will be missed and celebrated always! Rest In Peace legend! #manolosantana pic.twitter.com/yD9133duQj
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) December 11, 2021
Gutted to hear of the passing of one of the all-time nice humans who also played our beautiful sport of tennis so beautifully. A master and a gentleman on and off the court- RIP my friend, Señor Manolo Santana…#TennisHallOfFame
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) December 11, 2021
We lost a tennis legend and a great, kind man today. Rest In Peace Manolo Santana 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Gy7vHjfpt8
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) December 11, 2021
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.