They did, and they are pretty good ones. Marisa, now 26, went to Pepperdine College, and she still competes on the satellite tour. Emilio, 24, is ranked among the Top 10 on the men's tour. Javier, 22, who was the No. 1-ranked junior player in the world in 1986, is hovering around No. 13. Arantxa began playing at two. "She was always crawling on the court," says her mother, "always getting in the way." To keep Arantxa out of the way, Mama gave her a Slazenger racket.
"Arantxa never played with dolls," says Emilio. "Slazenger was her closest friend."
Slazenger accompanied her to the playground, to the dinner table, on family outings. They even shared the same bed. "That racket my first partner," says Arantxa. Their first opponent was a country-club wall. "We won," she says.
The clay courts of Club Real de Tenis swallowed her for days. Arantxa admired Evert, but idolized Emilio, Jimmy Connors and later Stefan Edberg.
"Emilio, because he's so steady and my brother," she says. " Connors, because his game is spectacular."
"Because he's cute."
Early on Sanchez Vicario decided she wanted to be No. 1 in the world. By age 13 she was Spain's top-ranked female. A year later, in 1986, she turned pro. As a wild card in her first pro tournament, she beat three established players. Less than a year later she nearly upset Martina Navratilova.
Sanchez Vicario does best on clay. Her favorite is the red clay of Barcelona, where last year she won her hometown tournament, the Spanish championships. "Next I like the green clay of Houston, Tampa and Amelia Island," she says. As for the red clay at Roland Garros, where the French Open is played, "Ugghhh!" she says. "It stay in my shirts and my mother she can't get it out." If all goes well at this year's French Open, which starts next week, Arantxa's mother will once again be doing battle with two weeks' worth of tennis shirts. One suspects she won't mind.
Arantxa's mother has supplanted Slazenger as her daughter's constant companion. As well as doing Arantxa's laundry, she fixes her meals and attends all her matches. "She's my mother, but not my mother superior," Arantxa says. "It's not like I'm a nun."