Maritza Sayalero Fernández
(1961-02-16) February 16, 1961
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Title||Miss Venezuela 1979
Miss Universe 1979
|Beauty pageant titleholder|
|Hair color||Light brown|
|Miss Venezuela 1979
Miss Universe 1979
Maritza Sayalero Fernández (born February 16, 1961 in Caracas) is a Venezuelan designer, model, businesswoman and beauty queen. In 1979 She was crowned both Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe, the first woman from Venezuela to win this title. She is married to Mexican tennis player Raúl Ramírez, with whom she has lived in Mexico since 1981. For years she had a boutique where she sold items of her own design.
Sayalero competed in 1979 as Miss Departamento Vargas in her country's national beauty pageant, Miss Venezuela. She won the crown and the right to represent her country in the Miss Universe 1979 pageant.
Sayalero showed enough of her legendary poise to become the indisputable leader of the night, winning the swimsuit, interview and evening gown competitions at the pageant held in Perth, Australia on July 19. She was the first titleholder from Venezuela.
Immediately after the live telecast ended, the stage collapsed, as too many journalists and photographers had stormed on to get a photograph of the new queen. She managed to save a contestant (Miss Colombia) from falling into the gaping hole left in the middle of the set. Other delegates, including Miss Turkey and Miss Brazil, fell through the hole and were injured.
Her victory began a national interest in beauty in Venezuela. Her name has become synonymous with beauty among Spanish language speakers, not only in Venezuela. Following her victory, in the 1980s, many parents named their daughters Maritza after her, especially if they shared the common family surname of Fernandez.
At least one ship was named in her honour, Maritza Sayalero.
Life after Miss Universe
Maritza Sayalero is married to Mexican tennis player Raúl Ramírez and became a naturalized citizen of Mexico. The couple has three children: Rebeca (born 1982), Raúl Alán (born 1984) and Daniel Francisco (1989).