From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beat­riz “Gigi” Fer­nán­dez (born Feb­ru­ary 22, 1964, in San Juan, Puer­to Rico) is a for­mer pro­fes­sion­al ten­nis play­er, the first female ath­lete from her native Puer­to Rico to turn pro­fes­sion­al, the first Puer­to Rican woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal and the first to be induct­ed into the Inter­na­tion­al Ten­nis Hall of Fame.

Fer­nán­dez won 17 Grand Slam dou­bles titles and two Olympic gold medals rep­re­sent­ing the Unit­ed States, and reached the World No. 1 rank­ing in wom­en’s dou­bles. She reached a career high sin­gles rank­ing of 17 in 1991. Since retir­ing from the pro­fes­sion­al tour in 1997 at the age of 33, Fer­nán­dez has been a ten­nis coach and entrepreneur.

Fer­nán­dez was rec­og­nized pri­mar­i­ly as a dou­bles spe­cial­ist dur­ing her pro­fes­sion­al career. Fer­nán­dez won a non-cal­en­dar year dou­bles Grand Slam with 17 Grand Slam wom­en’s dou­bles title – six French Open, five US Open, four Wim­ble­don, and two Aus­tralian Open win­ning at least one Grand Slam title every year from 1988–1997, except 1989, and for three straight years win­ning three of the four Grand Slam dou­bles titles in the same year (1992–1994). She won 14 of her 17 Grand Slam titles part­ner­ing Natasha Zvere­va; their part­ner­ship is the sec­ond most suc­cess­ful dou­bles pair in Grand Slam his­to­ry after Mar­ti­na Navratilo­va and Pam Shriv­er in the Open era.

In mixed dou­bles, Fer­nán­dez was the run­ner-up in three of the four Grand Slam mixed dou­bles events in 1995 (Aus­tralian Open, Wim­ble­don, and US Open) part­ner­ing Cyril Suk. Fer­nán­dez cap­tured 68 career titles in wom­en’s dou­bles and reached the World No. 1 dou­bles rank­ing in 1991 and attained the No. 1 rank­ing again in 1993, 1994 and 1995. She won a total of 69 dou­bles titles dur­ing her career.

Fer­nán­dez rep­re­sent­ed the Unit­ed States at the Olympic Games in 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta). She teamed with Mary Joe Fer­nán­dez (no rela­tion) to win the wom­en’s dou­bles gold medal on both occa­sions. The first gold medal was won against the home team of Con­chi­ta Martínez and Aran­txa Sánchez Vic­ario with the King and Queen of Spain in the audi­ence. The two medals are front and cen­ter on Fer­nán­dez’s desk, along with a car license plate that reads “DBL GLD”.

Fer­nán­dez rep­re­sent­ed Puer­to Rico when San Juan played host to the Pan Am Games in 1979. Just 15, Fer­nán­dez won a bronze medal. In 1982 at the Cen­tral Amer­i­can-Caribbean Games in Cuba, she teamed up with Mar­il­da Juliá to win dou­bles gold and won a sil­ver medal in the sin­gles as well. She rep­re­sent­ed Puer­to Rico at the 1984 Olympics.

Fer­nán­dez was also on the Unit­ed States team that won the Fed Cup in 1990.

In sin­gles, Fer­nán­dez reached as high as World No. 17. She also won two top-lev­el titles and reached the semi­fi­nals at Wim­ble­don in 1994 (ranked 99 becom­ing the low­est-ranked grand Slam sin­gles semi-final­ist at Wim­ble­don) and the quar­ter­fi­nals at the US Open in 1991 and 1994.

Fer­nán­dez retired from the pro­fes­sion­al tour in 1997. By far the most suc­cess­ful ten­nis play­er in the his­to­ry of Puer­to Rico, Fer­nán­dez was named Puer­to Rico’s “Female Ath­lete of the Cen­tu­ry” in 1999.

On July 12, 2010, Fer­nán­dez was induct­ed in the Inter­na­tion­al Ten­nis Hall of Fame along­side Zvereva.

Personal life

Fer­nán­dez was born in San Juan. Her father Tuto was a well-known doc­tor in Puer­to Rico. Her cousin José Fer­rer was a famous Puer­to Rican actor and direc­tor. Fer­nán­dez start­ed play­ing ten­nis when she was sev­en. When she turned pro­fes­sion­al in 1983, she become Puer­to Rico’s first-ever female pro­fes­sion­al ath­lete. Pri­or to turn­ing pro­fes­sion­al, she played ten­nis for one sea­son at Clem­son Uni­ver­si­ty, in 1982–83, where she was a sin­gles and dou­bles All-Amer­i­can and reached the Nation­al Col­le­giate Ath­let­ics Asso­ci­a­tion sin­gles final.

Since retir­ing from the tour, Fer­nán­dez has worked as a ten­nis coach. She has coached play­ers includ­ing the for­mer World No. 1 dou­bles play­er Ren­nae Stubbs, Lisa Ray­mond, and Saman­tha Sto­sur. She has also coached for the Puer­to Rican nation­al team and the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da. Fer­nán­dez also remains active in cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­i­ty events and par­tic­i­pates in fundrais­ers through­out the country.

Fer­nán­dez earned a Bach­e­lor of Arts in psy­chol­o­gy from the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da in 2003. She lat­er grad­u­at­ed from Rollins Col­lege’s Crum­mer School of Busi­ness where she earned a Mas­ter of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion. She is the moth­er of twins, Kar­son Xavier and Madi­son Jane, and the part­ner of retired pro­fes­sion­al golfer and cur­rent WWE exec­u­tive Jane Geddes.

In 2010, Fer­nán­dez start­ed a com­pa­ny called Baby Goes Pro  that pro­duced the first in a DVD series intro­duc­ing young chil­dren to sports, encour­ag­ing them to lead an active lifestyle, build char­ac­ter, and begin a life­long love of sports. She present­ly resides in Con­necti­cut with her twins, Ged­des, cur­rent­ly an exec­u­tive at the WWE based in Stam­ford, Conn., and is her­self Direc­tor of Ten­nis at Chelsea Piers Con­necti­cut, also in Stamford.