Former World No. 1 tennis player Arantxa Sanchez Vicario recently found herself in emotional turmoil during the initial hearing of her fraud case in Barcelona. She tearfully explained that she had entrusted her ex-husband with managing their assets, unaware of any wrongdoing.
At the center of this legal ordeal, the 51-year-old Sanchez Vicario and her ex-husband, Josep Santacana, face allegations of asset concealment and fraud against Banque de Luxembourg. The accusations stem from their alleged efforts to evade settling an outstanding debt of $8.14 million, which has been haunting them since 2009, including accumulated interest.
During the trial’s first session in Barcelona, which took place on September 12, Sanchez Vicario asserted her innocence, claiming ignorance about any illegal activities. She argued that she had relied on her then-husband Santacana to manage their financial affairs. She emphasized that her background as a professional tennis player left her without the necessary knowledge to handle complex financial matters. In her emotional testimony, she stated, “I did what he told me to do because I am a tennis player. I have no knowledge of assets or companies or anything. I trusted my husband.”
It’s worth noting that Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Josep Santacana ended their marriage in 2019 and vehemently deny all charges against them. If convicted, they could face a maximum prison sentence of up to four years, in addition to having to pay substantial financial damages.
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Before the legal troubles surfaced, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario had enjoyed a remarkable career on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour, earning her a place among the greatest female players of her era. Notably, she made history as the first Spanish female player to achieve the prestigious World No. 1 ranking.
Her rise to international prominence began in 1988 when she defeated the iconic American player Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, in the third round of the French Open. This clay-court major became her most successful Grand Slam tournament, with three victories in 1989, 1994, and 1998. Her 1994 French Open triumph marked the end of Steffi Graf’s remarkable 36-match winning streak.
Beyond her Grand Slam successes, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario also excelled at the Olympic Games, clinching four medals—two silvers (1992 doubles and 1996 singles) and two bronzes (1992 singles and 1996 doubles). Her contributions extended to representing Spain’s Fed Cup teams for an impressive 16 years, during which she secured victory for her country on five occasions in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1998.
As her legal battle unfolds, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario’s tennis legacy remains a significant part of her life story, cementing her status as a trailblazer for Spanish female tennis players and a celebrated figure in the world of sports.