In the family of Gabriela Sabatini everyone loved to play tennis. The father and older brother of the future US Open-1990 champion regularly attended the tennis club. And once, when the girl was 6 years old, she begged them to take her to the court too. This is how the wonderful career of the Argentine star began. Already at the age of 14, Gabriela won two prestigious junior tournaments at once – Orange Bowl and Roland Garros. As a result, Sabatini became the first racket among juniors.
In the same 1984, Sabatini made her debut at the adult US Open and reached the 3rd round. At the 1985 Roland Garros at the age of 15, the Argentinean reached the semifinals, where she lost only to the future champion Chris Evert . And at the end of the same season, Gabriela won her first professional title – in Tokyo. In total, she has 27 victories in WTA singles tournaments, including the WTA Final Championship (1988, 1994).
Since the mid-1980s, a grandiose confrontation between two great tennis players began – Gabriela Sabatini and Steffi Graf . They met 40 times, and on 29 occasions the Graf celebrated the victory. It was after her successes in the final matches with Sabatini at the 1988 US Open and the Olympic Games in Seoul that Steffi won the so-called Golden Slam – victory in four Grand Slam tournaments and at the Olympics. The sharp and irreconcilable rivalry between tennis players in singles did not prevent them from teaming up and successfully performing in different tournaments. In particular, Gabriela and Graf won at Wimbledon-1988, and reached the final of Roland Garros three more times (1986, 1987, 1989).
Sabatini won WTA tournaments, regularly reached the semifinals and even the final of the Grand Slam tournament, but for a long time she could not celebrate the main success. Everything changed at the US Open-1990. Gabriela went through the first week of the tournament in one breath, then in the 4th round she coped with the Czechoslovak tennis player Helena Sukova, in the 1/4 finals – with the Soviet athlete Leila Meskhi , and in the semifinals in three sets she overdid the American Mary-Joe Fernandez. In the decisive match, the Argentinean was confronted by Steffi Graf , and this time Sabatini won the first racket of the world in two sets.
The video can be viewed in the US Open Instagram. Copyright belongs to USTA.
At the age of 18, Gabriela Sabatini made her debut at the Olympic Games, and despite the young age of the tennis player, the Argentine team entrusted her with the right to carry the country’s flag at the opening parade of the 1988 Games in Seoul. And Gabriela justified this high honor by winning a silver medal.
Sabatini ended her career in 1996, and 10 years later, the first Argentine tennis player was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Among men, the only representative of Argentina in the Hall of Fame is Guillermo Vilas , who was Gabriela’s childhood idol.
Sabatini’s brother, Osvaldo, who is 5 years older than Gabriela, also played tennis well, but eventually chose an acting career. He has starred in many Argentinean dramas, including The Rich and Famous, starring Natalia Oreiro . And on the set of the serial film “Love Story”, he met his future wife Catherine Fulop . In 1998, Osvaldo and Catherine got married and had two daughters, Oriana and Titiana.
Gabriela Sabatini adores her nieces and is proud of their success. Oriana has become a famous actress and singer, and not only in Argentina. She is also a friend of the Italian Juventus striker Paulo Dybala .
The famous tennis player, at the invitation of the club, visited the training base of Juventus and received a personalized jersey number 10.
By the way, Gabriela fell in love with football, like all Argentines, as a child. She is friends with many famous footballers and came to Russia in 2018 to cheer for her team at the World Cup.
Sabatini became famous not only for her successes on the court, but also for her outstanding external data. More than once she was included in various lists and ratings of the most charming and attractive tennis players of all times and peoples. The popularity of the Argentine beauty was so high that in 1992, a new variety of bright red-orange rose was named after Gabriela. And the manufacturers of children’s toys even released a doll in tennis clothes and with a racket – an exact copy of Sabatini.
In 2020, the US Open held a virtual championship for fans among all the winners of the tournament of previous years. The participants were distributed on a grid, and the winner of a ticket to the next round in each virtual match was determined by voting in social networks. Gabriela Sabatini consistently beat Serena Williams , Kim Clijsters, Chris Evert (twice). And in the final, the Argentinean turned out to be “stronger”, or rather more popular than the Russian Maria Sharapova.
Gabriela showed her business acumen from an early age. She became the first athlete to sign a multi-million dollar contract with Pepsi. At the height of her career, the tennis player launched a perfume line, naming perfumes and eau de toilette by her name. This perfume still sells well today.