WHEN Spain’s Rafael Nadal won at the Australian Open final on Sunday it was his 21st Slam win and he swept into the record books as the player to have won the most gran slams in modern men’s tennis.

While the whole world knows about his legendary prowess on the courts, here are a run-down of some of the little known facts about his life.

Commemorative Dinner Of The "x Anniversary Of The Rafa Nadal Foundation In Madrid, Spain 18 Nov 2021
Nadal flanked by his mother on his right and wife on his left at the 10th Anniversary of the Rafa Nadal Foundation held in Madrid, 2021 (Image: Cordon Press)

His full name is Rafael Nadal Parera and was born on June 3, 1986, in Manacor (Mallorca),  the son of Sebastian Nadal and Ana Maria Parera. He is named after his paternal grandfather, a musician known as Mestre Rafael Nadal who passed away in 2015 at the age of 86.

Nadal Defeats Ferrer, 6 3, 3 4 Retired
Rafa’s parents, Sebastian Nadal and Maria Parera in the 2018 US Open (Image: Cordon Press)

His uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, also found sporting success but as a footballer. He was a player for FC Barcelona when the team won five leagues, one Champions League, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, two European Super Cups, three Spanish Super Cups and two King’s Cups.

Miguel And Rafa
Uncle Miguel Angel and young Rafa (Image: Oficial Barça Universal Twitter page)

However it was another uncle who introduced Rafa. Toni Nadal, himself a tennis player introduced young Rafa to the sport at the age of three. 

Rafael Nadal Esp Toni Nadal Esp Tennis Us Open 2015 30 08 2015 Tennismagazine Panoramic Publ
Toni Nadal and Rafa (Image: Cordon Press)

Throughout his childhood, Rafa played other sports but focussed on tennis and football. However, at the age of 12 he was forced to choose between the two and well, the rest is history.

Rafa Futbol
Friendly football competition held by several famous Spanish sportsmen in 2005 (Image: Cordon Press)

When he was only 9-years-old he won the Balearic Tournament, and at 11-years-old he became champion of Spain for the first time. At the age of 15 he was proclaimed winner of the International Tournament Series of Mallorca, becoming the youngest player of all time to win an official ATP tournament, ranking him number 762.

Siegerehrung French Open 2005 Sieger Rafael Nadal (spanien, 2.v.li.) Und Sein Gegner Mariano Puerta (argentinien, 2.v
Zidane presented the prize to Nadal at the French Open 2005 (Image: Cordon Press)

He has accumulated a multitude of awards such as the Prince of Asturias Sports Award in 2008, the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit in 2006, the Gold Medal for Merit in Work in 2014, and the National Sports Award for Best Spanish Athlete in 2006 and 2008.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso And Rafa Nadal At The Ceremony Of Delivery Of The Gran Cruz De La Orden Del Dos De Mayo At The Royal Post Office In Madrid, 03 December 2020
Isabel Diaz Ayuso and Rafa Nadal at the ceremony of delivery of the Gran Cruz de la Orden del Dos de Mayo at the Royal Post Office in Madrid, 2020 (Image: Cordon Press)

He turned down an honorary degree from the University of the Balearic Islands believing it wasn’t right as he left school before finishing secondary education.

He met his wife Maria Francisca Perello, a friend of his sister from his home town Manacor in 2005 when he was just 18. They dated for 14 years until finally tying the knot in 2019 at a glamorous wedding attended by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

Us Open 2013
Wife Maria Perello at the left and Nadal’s sister Maribel at the right (Image: Cordon Press)

He  starred alongside the singer Shakira in the 2010  video for her song Gipsy. The Colombian chose Nadal because she ‘needed someone she could identify with’.

In 2008 he created the Rafa Nadal Foundation, whose president is his mother. The foundation’s mission is to help children and young people at risk of social exclusion through sport and education. In 2010 he opened a school called Rafael Nadal Tennis School in Anantapur, India, which also aims to help young people through sport. In 2011 he was awarded the ATP Aces for Charity.

Magazine Nadal
Toni Nadal as coach for Rafa Nadal’s tennis academy, 2017 (Image: Cordon Press)

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