Hispanic Heritage Spotlight:
Erin Maher | October 3, 2017
Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. To celebrate, USTA.com is taking a look at past, present and future stars of Hispanic heritage who have helped to shape the game, as well as those who could soon cement their place in it.
Here’s a closer look at Gigi Fernandez, who won 17 Grand Slam women's doubles titles with four different partners and two Olympic gold medals with another throughout her Hall of Fame career.
- Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1964, Fernandez became the first Puerto Rican female athlete to turn professional. In 1988, she was named the Puerto Rican Female Athlete of the Year.
- Fernandez became the first Puerto Rican-born female to win a gold medal at the Olympics, winning in doubles for the U.S. with teammate Mary Joe Fernandez at the 1992 games in Barcelona and again in 1996 in Atlanta.
She also competed for the U.S. Fed Cup team for eight years.
- Fernandez played collegiately at Clemson University, where she posted a 40-7 record in singles and a 30-9 record in doubles. She made it to the NCAA singles final her freshman year in 1983 and ultimately left the Tigers to turn pro in 1983 at the age of 19.
- Throughout her 14-year professional tennis career, Fernandez won at least one Grand Slam doubles title every year from 1990 to 1997, including five consecutive Roland Garros doubles titles from 1991 to 1995. She won five US Open women’s doubles titles, in 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1995-96.
- Fernandez retired in 1997 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010, alongside longtime partner Natasha Zvereva. She’s managed to stay active on the court, coaching the University of South Florida women’s tennis team in 2002 and coaching in various other capacities over the years. This past year she served as coach for the New York Empire World TeamTennis team.