A pioneer of Spanish sport is gone. «When I started he was already a champion. Together with Santana, for me they were two of the best in the world, ”Lluís Bruguera recalls Andrés Gimeno. The former tennis player, champion of Roland Garros in 1972, finally lost the battle against cancer in which he had been fighting for a long time. He was 72 years old and many former players found out about the common chat they have on WhatsApp. Manolo Santana has been the one who has communicated it there and it has been a hard blow. The careers of Gimeno and Santana were "separated" for a time at a time when the tennis we see now flourished. The sport of racket was divided between amateurs and professionals. The first were those who could play the Grand Slam tournaments. Among them was Manolo. «Santana was made an offer to stay in the amateur field; to Gimeno, Kramer (former tennis player and promoter) made an inalienable proposal and left with Laver, with Rosewall, with Pancho Gonzales… The best in the world … Santana, Emerson stayed on the other side … That's why he won no more Grand Slams, ”Bruguera recalls. The change was given by Gimeno after winning the Count of Godó in 1960. and in 1968 the so-called "Open era" began, the unification, the circuit more or less as it is known now, saving the differences forced by the evolution of the sport. Andrés Gimeno gave time to Conquer Roland Garros in 1972, when he was already 34 years and 10 months old. Still keep that record: nobody in this modern era has won in Paris with more age. In 1969 he played the final of the Australian Open and in 1970 he reached the semifinals of Wimbledon. In 1973 he retired.
And how was he as a player? «I had a very good serve, a very good drive and with the reverse I did what I wanted … I had a touch, a glove …», says Lluís Bruguera. "And he was a winner," continues the father of the now Davis Cup captain. He knows it for tennis games (he trained in his academy), for golf games and for an anecdote: “I hope you don't get it wrong. Playing in the professionals one day he faced Ayala (former Chilean player) and he said: "I am injured and I can not finish." “Well, don't play. I'm not going to contemplate, ”Gimeno replied. The first ball made a drop and the second a balloon; the other already saw that it was not going to go well and left him. Everything he did was thought to win. Also the informal poker games, in which there was money involved, although little, in a time that recalls another former tennis player, Jordi Arrese. «He was going to full only when he had good cards. When I had something, I broke the bank, I always laughed with him about the subject, ”recalls the silver medalist at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. "He was an excellent person," adds Arrese. «What a good person says, with all the letters and in capital letters», says Lluís Bruguera. Actually, that's how everyone remembers it. And many of them were influenced in his career, such as Álex Corretja. «At 9 years old, my parents gave me a“ stage ”of a week at home at Christmas for getting good grades. He was very affectionate and very close. Then he told them about me that he saw something special for me to be so young and that he would follow me closely. We maintained a close relationship. Therefore, Gimeno also had a good eye, because Corretja came to play two Roland Garros finals, to be number two in the world and to win a Masters Cup and a Davis, among many other things. He is now a commentator on Eurosport. Andrés Gimeno did it for two decades on Spanish Television, explaining many successes of Spanish tennis.
The affection that everyone had for him was seen when he went through economic problems already in the 21st century. An investment in businesses that didn't work left him in a complicated situation. "I just want to be able to pay for the light," he said in several interviews. And to his gala-tribute in 2011 to raise funds and to help him no one was missing, neither old players nor figures of the moment like David Ferrer or Rafa Nadal. Everyone has remembered it in a day like yesterday through social networks. Andrés Gimeno is one of the members of the Tennis Hall of Fame since 2009. That same year he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit, awarded by the Higher Sports Council. He was born in Barcelona on August 3, 1937 and in the Royal Tennis Club of his city it was where he grew up with his father, Esteban Gimeno, who was also a tennis player and coach. On October 9, 2019, an illness has ended his life. Rest in peace.
. (tagsToTranslate) tennis