Arantxa Sanchez Vicario: My parents left me with nothing

If like me, you used to watch tennis in late 80’s early 90’s, you are familiar with Arantxa Sanchez family. Her mother Marisa, in particular, was a permanent fixture in the player’s box at tournaments around the world.
Arantxa’s family appeared to be perfectly normal, much more than the one of her two biggest rivals: Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. At least it seems, until recently.

My parents’ behavior has caused me a lot of suffering. In recent months, I have been through such difficult situations that there are still moments when I think I’m in a nightmare. What’s certain is that my relationship with my family doesn’t exist. How is it possible that everything I’ve obtained has disappeared, has ceased to be?

In her autobiography Vamos, Memorias da una lucha, una vida y una mujer,Arantxa Sanchez says her parents left her broke and that she has no relationships with anyone in her family, including her two former pro player brothers, Emilio and Javier.

Of course I had heard all those rumors surrounding her marriage to businessman Jose Santacana, but I really didn’t see that coming.

They’ve left me with nothing. I’m in debt to the (Spanish equivalent of the) IRS (she was condemned to pay €3.5 million in fines for paying taxes to Andorra while living in Spain), and my properties are very inferior to those of my brother Javier, for example, who has won much less than me over the course of his life.”

During her 17-year career Arantxa captured 4 Grand Slam singles titles, reached the number one ranking in both singles and doubles, and won about $17 million in prize money. The sponsorships she had during that time elevated her income to some $59 million by her count.
According to El Pais, sources knowledgeable of the tennis world and her family are surprised by the insinuation of bankruptcy (“She has a boat, houses…”) and the elevated figure of her earnings: there are high taxes on tournament prizes (up to 35%), and Arantxa did not enjoy a large advertisement contract outside the tennis world.

I never doubted how my father managed my money. Today I am out of resources (…) I am the victim and the deceived.

Arantxa, according to the book, was a girl who robbed a motorcycle to escape the tennis academy in which she was training. An adolescent whose her parents wanted her to go to bed early and leave her own birthday party. A champion weighed down by her “faithful shadow”, her mother – “for her, discipline and victory went before anything else, when sometimes what I needed most were caring words…I ended up doubting my self-worth and looking for help from psychologists to recover my self-esteem.”

The good old days: Arantxa Sanchez, sister Marisa and brothers Emilio and Javier

Arantxa with her parents Marisa and Emilio after her Roland Garros victory in 1994:

Of course, it didn’t take long for Arantxa’s mother to issue a statement in which she explains her daughter’s book was a total surprise to her. She also emphasises the cancer suffered by Arantxa’s father and the sacrifices they made for their daughter’s career.

For twenty years we lived for her. We put everything aside. We mortgaged our lives and our marriage. I travelled with her since she was a little girl. In fact, I left my husband and my other children to do so. After that, my husband left his job and came along with us so he could help her. We tried our best. We obviously failed. She was the one who received the most from us and now it turns out that -after turning forty- all the bad stuff that is happening to her is our fault. She accuses us of leaving her in bankrupt, of taking everything away from her, with the bitterness and resentment that one could only expect from the worst of the enemies.
I will not go into details. We will wait until the book is published and, much to our regret, we will carefully read it. Once it is done, it will be the time for me (and in my husband’s name) or our lawyers to give an appopriate reply to the false accusations we are undergoing. And, of course, it will be obvious that we have never taken advantage of Arantxa and that, indeed, she’s not ruined.

Sources: El Pais, Typically Spanish

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