Born 11 September 1933, in Tunis, Tunisia, Pietrangeli appeared in four men's singles finals at Roland Garros – winning the title in 1959 and 1960, and finishing runner-up in 1961 and 1964. He also won the Roland Garros men's doubles title in 1959 (together with Orlando Sirola), and the mixed doubles in 1958. At Wimbledon, Pietrangeli was a single semifinalist in 1960, when he lost to Rod Laver in 5 sets (6–4, 3–6, 8–10, 6–2, 6–4). He won the Internazionali d'Italia in 1957 and 1961 and was ranked World No. 3 by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph in 1959 and 1960 and also by Ned Potter in 1961.
Pietrangeli represented Italy in the Davis Cup between 1954 and 1972. He played in a record 164 Davis Cup rubbers, winning a record 120. He was a player on the Italian teams which reached the Davis Cup final in 1960 and 1961. Both finals were played on grass courts in Australia, and the Italians were not able to overcome the strong Australian team which included Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Neale Fraser.
After retiring as a player, Pietrangeli became Italy's Davis Cup team captain and guided them to winning their first-ever Davis Cup in 1976.