Manuel Santana, Spain’s first Wimbledon winner, dies at 83

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Manuel Santana. (Photo: Mutua Madrid Open / Twitter)

Tennis legend Manuel Santana, the first Spanish champion at Wimbledon, died Saturday at the age of 83, announced the Madrid Masters, tournament of which he was honorary president.

“Thank you a thousand times for what you have done for our country and for paving the way for so many people. You have always been a reference, a friend and a very close person to everyone”, tweeted Rafael Nadal, the only other Spaniard to win Wimbledon. “We will miss you.”

‘Manolo’ Santana has won four major singles titles. He won the French Open in 1961 and 1964, the US Open at Forest Hills in 1965 and Wimbledon in 1966 with a Real Madrid jersey.

“His love for the club inspired him to win Wimbledon in 1966 for Real Madrid, making him the first Spanish tennis player to win this Grand Slam”, the club wrote on their website.

He also won gold in singles and silver in doubles in Mexico City in 1968, where tennis was part of the demonstration events.

He captained Spain in the Davis Cup between 1980 and 1985, then again between 1995 and 1999.

President of the Spanish government Pedro Sanchez lamented the loss of a “legend”.

Spanish media reported that Santana suffered from Parkinson’s disease and lived in Marbella, on the Mediterranean coast.

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