Buenos Aires (AFP) - Perhaps it was meant as a backhanded compliment.
Vandals have made off with the racket that was clasped in the hands of a newly unveiled statue of Argentine tennis star Gabriela Sabatini in Buenos Aires.
The miscreants left the artwork looking rather empty-handed just a few weeks after it was made public on the Rio de la Plata waterfront.
They severed the bronze-colored racket that was formerly clasped tightly in the statue's hands, leaving Sabatini sans racket as she lines up for a backhand smash.
The statue is located among other tributes to Argentine sporting greats, such as tennis player Guillermo Vilas and basketball player Manu Ginobili.
Officials are also planning statues of several other sporting stars including soccer gods Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, and the golfer Roberto de Vicenzo.
The work by artist Carlos Benavidez was made with polyester resin and fiberglass, then reinforced with various paints, inks and oils that look like bronze and protect the statue from the weather.
During her 11 years as a pro, Sabatini, now 44, won 27 titles including the US Open, when she beat Steffi Graf in 1990.
She is the only Argentine to have won a Grand Slam singles victory.