When it comes to golf, Marbella is recognised as Spain’s premier destination. The town has the highest number of courses of any municipality in Spain, but it is just as much (even more) about quality as it is about quantity. Several of the courses have hosted European Tour events (as well as the World Cup in 1973 and 1989) while others such as Río Real are regular venues for premier national and international amateur tournaments. The same applies to tennis.
The municipality is dotted with superb amenities for aficionados of Marbella’s second most popular sport, including first-class tennis and pádel courts at Río Real. This autumn, Marbella hosted the Senior Masters Cup, which culminated in a gripping final between Albert Costa and tennis legend John McEnroe, eventually ending 3-6, 6-3, 12-10 in the Spanish star’s favour. Earlier matches had involved Mats Wilander, Sébastien Grosjean, Younes Al Aynaoui and Yannick Noah who, post-tournament, performed with his rock band in the VIP lounge. Marbella is also a favourite tennis practice getaway for Novak Djokovik, who fine-tuned his game in the area before heading to London for the 2016 ATP World Tour finals. Previously, the Serbian star enjoyed a “working holiday” summer break with his family in Marbella.
During their stay, he and his wife Jelena attended the Seal concert, where they were honoured with a personal tribute song (“Kiss from a Rose”) by the American singer-songwriter. Both of those events – the Senior Masters Cup final and the Seal concert – were held on Puente Romano’s newly baptised Manolo Santana Centre Court. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Santana’s win at Wimbledon – the first by a Spanish player in that hallowed tennis cauldron – and a series of events have been held over the past few months to honour that achievement and his 30-year association with Marbella. These included a tribute from CIT Marbella during the presentation of the business association’s 17th annual awards: the “Luis Cierco Special Award for Tourist Promotion of Marbella”. Announcing the award, CIT Marbella noted, “Manolo Santana is one of Marbella’s greatest ambassadors, promoting Marbella wherever he goes, and making an ongoing contribution to spreading the word about its attractions.”