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Why I Support Aranxta                            Back to the site
By Caz (age 19)
From England

Posted on March 19, 1999.

When Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario first grabbed the worlds attention, in 1989, aged just 17, by reaching her first Grand Slam final, - at Roland Garros, - she was a new, young, player, with a bubbly personality, who wasn't in the least intimidated to be playing the world #1, Steffi Graf, just a couple of years older than her, who the previous year had completed the Golden Slam, - winning all four Grand Slam titles and the Olympic Gold medal. When asked if she thought she could win the title, she didn't answer, the title is Graf's, as Natasha Zvereva had done the year before. On the contrary, Arantxa's response was, "I play my own game, be patient, and wait for her to be tired", "She is not a God, I come to play Steffi Graf, not to pray to her". Unlike Zvereva she did she succumb 6-0, 6-0 to Graf, instead she went on to take the title, 7-6, 3-6, 7-5.

As the years have passed, and Arantxa has matured, that amazing self belief has never waned;  in 1996, at the French Open, though the crowd treated her appallingly, she still attled her way to the final, and fought her heart out, before losing narrowly to Graf.  In her speech to the crowd afterwards, through tears, she told them that though she knew that they hadn't been on her side, she still loved them, and would be back the next year.  Even in 1997, her worst year to date, when she only reached two singles finals, ending the year without having won a singles title for 18 months, at the lowly, (for her), ranking of #9, she still believed that if she did the right things she could get back to the top, and through one of her other great attributes, -her never-say-die attitude - she indeed did manage to make it back into the top four for most of 1998, and on top of that managed to capture her fourth Grand Slam title - at Roland Garros - showing grace, and compassion even then, in what must have been one of the highest moments of her career, in the trophy acceptance speech, in which she apologised for having had to beat Monica Seleswin the tournament, and told her how sorry all the players ere to hear of her Fathers death.

In 1998, she also achieved success in Sydney - crushing the Williams sister back-to-back en route to the title - and guided Spain, aided by Conchita Martinez, to their fifth Fed Cup title - having already been part of all their previous wins.

Even now, in 1999, hampered by what appears to be a pretty serious wrist injury, and with the knowledge that either way - with or without surgery - her career could be hindered by this, though lightening her schedule considerably in the hopes that her injury will heal without surgery, and though in reality, she must be rich enough, and famous enough to just call it quits, and not to struggle through her injury to maintain her place within the top 5, this is not her style.

Her gritty determination, will power, and strong self belief keep her going despite everything that it against her, and despite the fact that she has never achieved the recognition in the world's media that her talents deserve. I think we could all learn a lot from the amazing attibutes that Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario displays daily on the court, and it is for these that she will always unknowingly inspire me to achieve the best within myself, and for these reasons that my support for her will never waver.