| Aranxta Sanchez-Vicario announces her retirement in Barcelona Tuesday. (Reuters)
Barcelona: Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario announced her retirement from professional tennis on Tuesday, bringing to an end a 17-year career that brought her four Grand Slam singles titles and made her the most successful Spanish player in history.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision but I believe the moment has arrived for me to dedicate my time to my personal life,” Sanchez-Vicario told a packed news conference in her hometown.
“I’ll keep with me all the marvellous moments I’ve had in this sport. I’m finishing my career with a great smile and with thanks to everyone who made it possible.”
The 30-year-old won the French Open title three times, the first as a 17-year-old in 1989, and the US Open once.
She helped her country to five victories in the Fed Cup, the women’s equivalent of the Davis Cup, and was given the Principe de Asturias award, Spain’s highest sporting honour, in 1998.
She represented Spain at four Olympics, winning four medals, rose to the number one ranking in the world in 1995 and finished her career with a total of 29 singles titles.
“Until now my whole life has been devoted to tennis and that has meant a great deal of effort and dedication,” she said.
“In return, I’ve achieved everything a sportsperson could hope for — renown, triumphs and a lot of love.
“I now hope to have a rest and live a normal life.”
Sanchez-Vicario’s playing career ended disappointingly, as a thigh injury contributed to a defeat to Slovakia’s Janette Husarova in the final of the Fed Cup, her 100th match in the competition.