Manuel Santana obituary

Tennis player who by winning Wimbledeon transformed the appeal of the sport in Spain

Few people played tennis as beautifully as Manuel Santana. And few have played a greater role in popularising their sport in a major nation. It is not an exaggeration to say that millions of people play tennis in Spain today because Santana, who has died aged 83, won Wimbledon in 1966.

It was not just that a Spaniard won Wimbledon, although he was the first to do so, but that he was the son of a groundskeeper at a tennis club in Madrid. He was a ball boy. He came from the working classes who, in the days of the dictator Francisco Franco, were not supposed to play rich men’s sports.

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