STAMFORD, Conn. -- Happy Birthday To Stamford’s Beatriz "Gigi" Fernández!
Fernández, who lives in Stamford, turns 50 on Saturday. The tennis player was born Feb. 22, 1964, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Fernández started playing tennis when she was 7. When she turned professional in 1983, she become Puerto Rico's first-ever female professional athlete.
She was recognized primarily as a doubles specialist during her professional career. She captured 68 career titles in women's doubles, reached the World No. 1 doubles ranking in 1991 and attained the No. 1 ranking again in 1993, 1994 and 1995.
She also won a non-calendar year doubles Grand Slam with 17 Grand Slam women's doubles titles – six French Open, five US Open, four Wimbledon, and two Australian Open. She won at least one Grand Slam title every year from 1988 to 1997, except 1989, and for three straight years won three of the four Grand Slam doubles titles in the same year (1992 to 1994). She won 14 of her 17 Grand Slam titles with partner Natasha Zvereva.
Fernández was also on the United States team that won the Fed Cup in 1990.
In singles, she reached as high as World No. 17. She won two top-level titles and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1994 and the quarterfinals at the US Open in 1991 and 1994.
She is the first Puerto Rican woman to win an Olympic gold medal, which she accomplished in 1992 and 1996, and was the first to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She was also named Puerto Rico's Female Athlete of the Century in 1999.
She currently is director of tennis at Chelsea Piers Connecticut, located in Stamford.