He is a guest at Roland Garros this week, as he is each year. "Going to Paris is a great pleasure," he said. "It is a part of my life, full of many memories."
A touch player of great style and charisma, he was hailed as a national hero in 1976 when Italy, under his non-playing captaincy, were crowned Davis Cup champions for the only time. As a player between 1954 and 1972 he appeared in 164 Davis Cup rubbers, a world record.
Today, in his 62nd year, he enjoys an enviable lifestyle with homes in Rome and Monte Carlo, where he is employed in an ambassadorial role, helping to attract business to the principality. He plays golf with Prince Rainier and is a tennis partner to Prince Albert.
He laments the lack of top-class players in Italy today but confesses to disliking the modern game. "It is no longer my world. I'm afraid I find it boring. Maybe the Italian temperament is not suited to tennis now. We like to invent things but you cannot be an artist in tennis today."
Born in Tunis and fluent in four languages, Pietrangeli benefited from a handsome inheritance from his late Russian-born mother, who won pounds 250,000 in the French national lottery 15 years ago. He lives up to his wealth. "I don't want to be the richest man in the cemetery," he said.
Divorced, with three sons and one grandchild, he regularly features in gossip columns at home, where his recent break-up with a 32-year-old television presenter made headlines.
Jon CulleyReuse content