Arantxa Sánchez Vicario has to stand trial for her alleged involvement in a million-dollar fraud. She gives an emotional account of her side of the story – and now escapes the worst.
She was one of Steffi Graf’s biggest rivals, number 1 in the world rankings, winner of four Grand Slam tournaments.
This week, tennis legend Arantxa Sánchez Vicario was once again the centre of public attention in her native Spain – but for less pleasant reasons.
Sánchez Vicario is on trial in Barcelona for her involvement in an alleged million-dollar fraud, and the 51-year-old faces four years in prison.
On Tuesday, Sánchez Vicario tearfully told her side of the story – and has now averted the worst-case scenario for her.
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario lost all her money
Background of the indictment: Sánchez Vicario and her ex-husband Josep Santacana were accused of concealing assets to avoid paying millions to the Banque de Luxembourg, to which the couple was indebted for over 7.5 million euros.
Sánchez Vicario had already been convicted of tax evasion in 2009 and subsequently had several run-ins with the law over allegations of financial fraud.
By her own account, the former world-class player earned more than 56 million euros in her active career, but accuses her family of having taken control of all her money and gambled it away completely. A lawsuit against brother Javier and father Emilio sr., who died in 2016, ended in 2015 with an out-of-court settlement.
Now Sánchez Vicario testified in court that her ex-husband, from whom she divorced in 2019, was responsible for the renewed money trouble.
“I did what he told me to do “
“I did what he told me to do,” she explained. “I’m a tennis player, I don’t know anything about assets, businesses or anything. I trusted my husband.”
According to Sánchez Vicario, she had belatedly grasped the gravity of the situation and confronted her husband, who had “acknowledged the facts”. She has already repaid the bank some 1.9 million euros, and half of her current income also goes to the bank.
The prosecutors apparently found the accounts credible and reduced her sentence from four to two years’ imprisonment – and, according to Spanish media reports, also agreed to accept the expected suspension of the sentence to probation.
So unlike Boris Becker, who got into legal trouble for similar reasons, Sánchez Vicario will avoid a prison sentence.
Meanwhile, ex-husband Santancana continues to face the sentence originally requested.