IT SEEMS ONLY YESTERDAY BUT IT’S BEEN 50 YEARS: SUPERMANuel SANTANA

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GUIDEPOST cover, 8 July 1966

“Grass is just for cows”

Fifty years ago this hot month of July, Spain found itself unexpectedly the proud nation of World Nº 1 Amateur Tennis Player, Manuel Santana, for winning Wimbledon. (Wimbledon marks 1877-1967 as the Amateur era, and 1968 to the present the Open era.)  Impoverished Spain, then isolated and shunned from the international political stage, was euphoric. Santana, who famously said that “grass is just for cows,” became an instant national hero.

The Royal Box at Winbledon's Centre Court

The Royal Box at Winbledon’s Centre Court

Though he had wins on other major courts (he won the French Open men’s singles in 1961 and 1964, and led the Spanish national team to the biggest number of wins at the Davis Cup, singles and doubles, for example), Santana was the only Spanish male winner at the grassy Grad Slam until Rafael Nadal came along in 2008 who, as a result, became World Nº 1 and who repeated the caper in 2010.

In 2011, symbolically and as a matter of distinction, Sanatana was seated in the Wimbledon Royal Box while Nadal  played the final against Novak Djokovic.

Santana with Roger Federer at the Madrid Open

Santana with Roger Federer at the Madrid Open

He would be central to the same Box on 1 July 2016 in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of that historic win, accompanied by the Chairman of the All England Club Philip Brook, Margaret Smith Court AO MBE, Billy Jean King, 1958 champ Ashley Cooper, and John McEnroe among other sport luminaries. (Incidentally, Andy Murray has just won this year’s Wimbledon men’s tournament.)

Today, Santana is the organizer of World Tour Master’s Madrid Open. Rose Maramba

 

 

 


Reprinted from
GUIDEPOST
8 July 1966

SUPERMANuel at Wimbledon

Sports column, GUIDEPOST

SUPERMANnuel at WimbledonWimbledon, England, was the scene last week of Spain’s greatest international sporting triumph of recent years as Manuel Santana, Supermanuel to his admirers, bested the number one American player Ralston in the finals of the world’s most prestigious tennis championship. In slightly under two hot, windless hours and by a score of 6-4, 11-9, 6-4 the recently injured Spanish ace, considered for several seasons now as the world’s best amateur player, walked away with the big trophy awarded him by Princess Marina of Kent. After Spain’s elimination by Brazil in the second round of this year’s Davis Cup Play-offs, a heartening victory and the proof that once again Santana is in top form.

    From the start the match, attended by royalty and important political figures of Britain and Europe, promised to be hotly-contested: Ralston felt his chance would be in breaking Santana’s at times inconsistent and Santana believed Ralston could be beaten through unyielding steadiness. In the end the Spaniard – through an unerring combination of work, consistency and skill – proved to be right. As his countrymen watched on television from Spain he worked steadily away at his opponent, never once faltering in spite of the doubtful outcome.

    For the public, though, there was never any doubt: considerations about Gibraltar aside, a strong partisan public cheered their favorite straight to victory and when in the final set it appeared that Ralston might come back to victory there was a coldness and even sullenness in the public of 16,000. For days before the final Santana had been the darling of the English press for his friendly naturalness and charm and going into the last day was the clear favorite of almost every Englishman. When he accepted the victor’s cup, kissed the hand of Princess Marina and smiled to the gallery, the crowd exploded in spontaneous applause.

    Nor was the winner’s cup his final honor: the Secretary General of the Movimiento, at the proposal of the National Delegation of Physical Education and Sports, has awarded him the gold medal of Sporting Merit.   

 


Images
Royal Box by Chris Eason (https://www.flickr.com/photos/mister-e/), CC BY 2.0 Generic, cropped
Federer and Santana at the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open 2010 by CDpache (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Cdpache&action=edit&redlink=1) , CC BY SA 3.0 Unported, cropped

 

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