"My best rivalry player was Steffi Graf," said Spanish legend Arantxa Sanchez Vicario while she recalled her illustrous and successful 19-year-long career. "Beating Steffi in the biggest tournaments, you always remember that as the most memorable moment."
"Beating Steffi in 1989 French final when I was only 17 was very memorable. To beat the number one player at that time was memorable Also the 1994 US Open final when I defeated her was also memorable because I was the number one player at that time," she adds with a sense of pride in her eyes.
Sanchez's 1989 triumph over the German legend in the final of the French Open is a part of tennis folklore. In fact her matches with Steffi created as much buzz and hype among the fans which today a Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal match does.
The 45-year-old, who is on her first visit to India as a guest at the Rendez-Vous A Roland-Garros tennis tournament to be played in New Delhi on April 18-19, told ANI how she started playing the game and also revealed her love for the sport.
Sanchez, a mother of two, would be sharing her expertise with the eight boys and girls who are taking part in the national finals.
"I picked up racket at the age of 4 and started playing professional at the age of 14. At the age of 17, I won the French Open and two years later, I was the number one tennis player in singles and doubles," she said.
"I loved the sport. I also played soccer when I was younger. I like both the sports but I saw the racket and the ball and I said that I wanted to play tennis. I started practicing after school. I started winning tournaments at a very young age and with practice I turned professional."
"I had a wonderful career. I am very privileged to do what I liked to do," she added.
When asked about the changes that have come in women's singles event since her era, Sanchez said, "It is the equal prize money.The prize money now is much bigger than in our generation."
"There are only 23 number one ranked players in the history. I am very happy to be one of them and to be able to be so successful," she concluded with a smile on her face.
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