Gabriela Sabatini is best known for her successes at the US Open in 1990, a Wimbledon doubles victory at Wimbledon in 1988 and a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics. Although her success on the court was significant, she feel that the sport of tennis in her homeland of Argentina has been significantly underfunded and that with less children taking up the sport, she ahs doubts over the continued strength of Argentinean tennis.
Since she retired in 1996, Sabatini has quietly financed a programme for young players, women’s tennis tournaments and free tennis clinics for young children out of her own pocket, the IOC said. Sabatini, who was ranked world number three, said she was “giving back to sport something of the many things that sport gave to me”. She hope that this foundation will enable young children who wish to take up the support be able to reach the highs she once did as a professional and former female world number one. With two gram slam victories and two Women’s tennis association championships victories as well as scoring an incredible ten wins against every reigning number one player she faced in her career, the now 42 year old will forever be considered a tennis legend
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday awarded former Argentine tennis star Gabriela Sabatini its 2006 “women in sport” prize for her work to promote tennis in Argentina. The IOC highlighted how her dedication to the sport of tennis in her home country should be applauded as she has gone “above and beyond the expectations of a sporting role model.” Although her legacy in the sport may already be established, her legacy may also include the success of Argentinean tennis for many years to come.
Argentina has always been one of the dominant South American nations in tennis and over the last few years, it’s showing in the Davis Cup confirms its claim as one of the strongest powers on the global stage but many people are still in doubt whether tennis in Argentina will overcome the step-motherly treatment that it receives from the fans, the government, the media and the sponsors to become one of the biggest assets for a country that worships football and consider footballers as Gods.
Furthermore, there are all the controversies that tennis in the country is always embroiled in, which makes one wonder whether the sport will ever get a strong footing in the country. Tennis in Argentina has probably reached its highest position in the last decade with the country appearing four times in the Davis Cup final, losing all four and having a player or two in the Top 10 of the ATP rankings on a consistent basis.
In the women’s tennis circuit too, the country has progressed by leaps and bounds and Gabriella Sabatini, the country’s only female Grand Slam title winner with a US Open victory under her belt in 1990 and although, it has failed to produce another female Grand Slam winner in recent years, the game has seen steady rise over the last couple of decades.
But what the players are still complaining about is the fact that due to the lack of sponsors, the infrastructure for the growth, development and nurturing of younger players is still not possible and if tennis in Argentina is to progress, players like David Nalbandian, Juan martin Del Potro and Juan Ignacio Chela believe that the corporate must extend a helping hand for the game to develop to its full potential and aid in the development of the sport as a whole.