The Spanish tennis player started playing tennis at the age of four, following in the footsteps of her two older brothers who also went on to be professional players. She played her first Grand Slam tournament at the age of 15, in 1986. She went on to win the French Open Singles for the first time in 1989. Sánchez-Vicario was part of the Olympic tennis tournament in 1988, when tennis was included again in the Olympic programme. She was, however, knocked out in the first round.
In 1992, the young tennis player competed in her second Olympic Games on home ground. She was beaten in the semi-final but went on to win bronze in the singles tournament. Together with Conchita Martínez she succeeded better in the doubles tournament where she won the silver medal. Atlanta in 1996 also saw Aranxa return with a silver medal, after losing to Lindsey Davenport in the singles final, and a bronze medal in women’s doubles.
Aranxa competed at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004. Shortly after, in 2004, she retired from professional tennis, a sport she had been playing for 29 years. Her retirement was well-deserved after having won four Olympic medals (a record shared with Steffi Graf), four Grand Slam singles titles, six doubles titles (for eight finals lost) and 92 other titles on the international circuit. She had also been the world number one in 1995.