Connect with us

Uncategorized

THE KING’S EMPIRE: RAFAEL NADAL’S AMBITION EXTENDS WELL BEYOND THE TERRE BATTUE

Published

on

Manacor was once famous for its pearl factory and wooden furniture industry. Now, it’s an international tennis destination that’s better known as the birthplace of a legend—and the home base of his ever-growing business empire.

Long before Rafael Nadal set out to bring a world-class tennis complex to Manacor, Spain, there was already a sporting facility that bore his last name: the Polideportivo Miguel Angel Nadal. Named after his uncle, a former FC Barcelona and Spanish National Team soccer player, it is an ode to the town’s once-most famous athlete.

The Nadal name has a history in Manacor, a small municipality of roughly 44,000 people on the island of Mallorca that has stood in place since the 14th century, famous for its pearl factory and wooden furniture industry. Now, it’s an international tennis destination that’s better known as the birthplace of a tennis legend.

Many top players end up relocating as their tennis careers—and bank accounts—outgrow their humble hometowns, in favor of financially beneficial places like Monte Carlo or Dubai, or tennis enclaves like South Florida or Barcelona for year-round training opportunities. Nadal has had plenty of chances to do the same.

But 21 Grand Slam singles titles and more than $128 million in prize money later, the 35-year-old does more than just call Manacor home: he has transformed it into the home base of his ever-growing business empire.

Pondering his legacy

Nadal announced his ambitious plans to build an international tennis school in his hometown back in 2011, with the goal of making Manacor a benchmark for the rest of the sports world. But it wasn’t until a year later when, with a bit of help from the city council, the project kicked into high gear.

The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous. As Nadal planned for life after tennis and pondered his legacy, the idea of his possible retirement suddenly seemed more immediate than ever before. Persistent tendinitis in Nadal’s knees had flared up again, abruptly derailing the world No. 2’s 2012 season. From the dizzying heights of winning his seventh Roland Garros title—surpassing the record held by Bjorn Borg—he crashed back to earth after being upset in the second round of Wimbledon by Lukas Rosol. Nadal was forced to withdraw from the London Olympics, and then shut down his season after the tendinitis was diagnosed as a torn patellar tendon. He didn’t compete again until February 2013.

See also  ATP players revolt against Rafa Nadal over Wimbledon stance

While Nadal himself was firm that he had no plans to retire, he admitted that his days were numbered as injuries took their toll.

“I don’t know how long I will keep playing tennis,” he said at the time. “I’ll be 31 in five years and taking into account the fact that I started at 16… Perhaps stopping now will help extend my career a little bit more.

“Until I had the problems with the knee again, the final at Roland Garros, had been one of the best seasons of my life. I felt able to win any competition. Complicated times came later.”

With sport and education as its fundamental cornerstones, the Rafa Nadal Foundation recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. “Hopefully we will be able to continue growing,” Nadal said in 2016. “That’s what we have been doing in the last few years. We’ve been doing it progressively, slowly, but trying to do things right and reach as many kids as possible.”

Those complicated times have always been a theme for Nadal, who has missed as many major tournaments due to various injuries as his Big Three rivals combined: 11 since his Grand Slam debut in 2003. During that same period, Roger Federer has missed nine, all after 2016 since undergoing knee surgery (after which he regularly skipped Roland Garros in an attempt to minimize strain on the joint) and Novak Djokovic only two.

Improbably, Nadal has fought his way back each time to reach the pinnacle of the sport. He now stands alone atop the list of men’s Grand Slam singles champions, with 21 major titles after winning his second Australian Open this year.

Only a few weeks earlier, Grand Slam glory seemed far away for Nadal. He had once again shut down a season after sustaining a foot injury in the 2021 Roland Garros semifinals. While the Spaniard’s fervently loyal fanbase has become accustomed to these sudden and sometimes lengthy layoffs, this one seemed different: it was due to a worrying flare-up of Nadal’s rare congenital foot condition, Mueller-Weiss Syndrome.

“One month and a half ago, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to be back on the tour playing tennis again,” Nadal told the Melbourne crowd during the trophy ceremony. “And today, I am here in front of all of you having this trophy with me and you really don’t know how much I fought to be here.”

See also  'It doesn't matter if Rafael Nadal plays a first match or a final...', says ATP ace

Building his academy

As someone who has had to be keenly aware of his own mortality since being diagnosed with a degenerative condition in 2005, Nadal has been planning for life after tennis for practically his whole career.

He launched the Rafa Nadal Foundation in 2008, with the goal of using sport as a vehicle for improving lives, and later opened his first tennis school in Anantapur, India in 2010. Using that experience as a blueprint, Nadal set out to create the Rafa Nadal Academy as he solidified his legacy in Spanish sport, on Spanish soil.

Inaugurated in 2014, the Academy is now a sprawling 18-acre complex that contains 45 tennis courts—23 hard, 22 clay— as well as a soccer field, padel and squash courts, swimming pools, a fitness center, spa and more. The world-class facilities have drawn the likes of Casper Ruud, Grigor Dimitrov, Naomi Osaka and other top players to Manacor for pre-season or training sessions.

Also on the grounds is the bilingual Rafa Nadal International School, which welcomes primary and secondary school students, while top chefs serve up custom menus at the complex’s restaurants and cafe. Tourists can even stay at the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre’s rooms, with breakfast included during their stay in Mallorca.

When Nadal returned to Manacor from Melbourne, the Australian Open trophy went straight to the Rafa Nadal Museum, taking its place alongside other artifacts from his storied career. The museum doubles as a Nadal fan’s ultimate pilgrimage site, drawing visitors from around the world.

“My future is here. I don’t imagine myself living away from Mallorca,” Nadal said during the Academy’s inauguration. ”I’d like to make this a center of tennis for everyone around the world.”

Nadal’s sphere of influence has only continued to expand since. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of all the things that bear his name, or benefit from his impact.

The Rafa Nadal Tour is a multi-city junior circuit launched in 2014, with a young Alejandro Davidovich Fokina becoming its first champion in the U-15 category. There’s also the Rafa Nadal Open, an ATP Challenger Tour event, which was a stop on Andy Murray’s comeback from hip surgery in 2019. The WTA and ATP tours have both featured Mallorca grass-court tournaments on their calendars—Sofia Kenin and Daniil Medvedev have lifted its trophies—with uncle Toni Nadal serving as tournament director.

See also  Rafael Nadal talks about playing with a small grip

Such has been Nadal’s impact, on and off the court, that they’re running out of ways to honor him at home: in Manacor, there’s a petition circulating to either “erect a statue or rename an avenue” after Rafa, while in Mallorca there’s a social media campaign to rename the international airport in its capital, Palma.

The mayor of Manacor

While the Academy and its rapid growth have come to be synonymous with Manacor, not everyone is pleased. Its mayor, Miquel Oliver, broke rank in 2019 when he called out the Nadal family for “a la carte urban planning” and using their weight in local government to bypass the usual approval channels for the project.

After construction stalled for more than a year as it struggled to obtain city council approval to build on rustic land, the Balearic Islands regional government abruptly approved Ley 5/2012. ‘Rustic’ land, by Spanish definition, is not zoned for development, and the process for reclassifying it is rarely simple. Especially so for the Academy site, which flanks one of the oldest buildings in Manacor: Torre dels Enagistes, a historic 13th century fortress that now houses a museum.

Ley 5/2012 cut through the red tape and fast-tracked the building of “a world-class international tennis center in Manacor,” declaring the project to be of “urgent regional interest”—thus allowing Nadal to skip the usual fees, environmental studies and years of delay.

​​Later on, when the Academy ran into trouble converting its sports residences for tourist use, the law was tweaked again. As a result of the controversial “Nadal Amendment,” as it is derisively called in Manacor, the Academy could now operate as a hotel as well as expand to nearly double its footprint, to the ire of the island’s environmental groups.

Residents and small business owners in Manacor have also found it increasingly difficult to compete with their world-class, internationally renowned neighbor and its deep pockets. Oliver pointed to Manacor’s struggling municipal services as an example.

“The municipal swimming pool may not open next summer due to competition from the Nadal Sports Center,” he told El Confidencial in 2019. “There are gyms that have had to dedicate themselves to giving judo classes, because the clientele was leaving them.”

Up Next

‘Black Lives Matter’ In Tennis: Venus Williams’ Father Roasts Reporter In Interview; Watch

Don't Miss

Williams gave birth to her and Ohanian’s first child, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017, just two months before they married. “I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband,” she recalled to reporters in Australia, according to Essentially Sports. “It was like ‘there’s something about your smell, I don’t like your smell’.” Williams has enjoyed a strong start to the 2020 tennis season, winning all three of her matches at the ASB classic in Auckland, reaching the semifinals. She meets Amanda Anisimova on Saturday for a place in the final. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Serena Williams says she remembers unexplainedly “hating” her husband Alexsis Ohanian and “his smell” during the early days of her pregnancy. Williams gave birth to her and Ohanian’s first child, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017, just over a year after the pair became engaged. They married two months later, but when she was pregnant she recalls being enraged by his smell. “I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband,” she recalled to reporters in Australia, according to AFP . “I was like ‘I can’t stand you and I don’t know why. Obviously, at the time, I didn’t know why either. It was like ‘there’s something about your smell, I don’t like your smell’. I was six weeks pregnant and had no idea. “So looking back it’s so surreal and crazy and now that I’m here, I have all these funny memories of being miserable.” Williams famously won the Australian Open in 2017 while seven to eight weeks pregnant, going the whole tournament without losing a single set. She subsequently bowed out from tennis for just over a year, during which time she revealed having a medical condition that made her her prone to blood clots, and therefore her pregnancy potentially life-threatening. After receiving treatment and giving birth, she returned to the court in March 2018, and has since been fighting to get back to her best form. The 38-year-old has enjoyed a strong start to 2020, winning all three of her matches at the ASB classic in Auckland to reach the semifinals, where she meets Amanda Anisimova on Saturday.

Uncategorized

Novak Djokovic made a new RECORD: he surpasses Rafael Nadal

Published

on

Novak Djokovic sets another record. Despite the difficult start to the season, the Serbian tennis player retains the top position in the ATP ranking, after a brief spell where he was overtaken by the current world number two, Daniil Medvedev.

The Slam champion spent a total of 367 weeks at the top of the world rankings: he is the player who has spent the most weeks in that position, overtaking Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. Novak Djokovic’s record in ranking is not just about weeks, but also about age.

The Serbian, in fact, became the third oldest player to reach the top 2 of the ATP rankings in the entire Open Era, at the age of 34, 11 months and three days. The world number one thus overtook the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who was in the top 2 of the ranking up to 34 years and 11 months.

Injuries and long stops did not allow the king of Roland Garros to move up the rankings, but his return can upset the cards on the table. In this special ranking, Djokovic is behind two former world number ones: Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer.

The former Australian tennis player is a difficult goal to achieve: he was number one at 40 years and 7 months. More within reach of the Serbian is his long-time rival, Roger Federer. The Swiss played in the top 2 until the age of 37 years and two months.

The return of the Big 3

The challenge between the Big 3 could come out of the records and the numbers: Djokovic and Nadal will be able to return to play the same tournament after Roland Garros in 2021, where the two met in the semifinals, which ended with the victory of the Serbian.

See also  ROLAND GARROS INSPIRES SHARAPOVA TO GET ON THE COURT

The tournament of the clash will be Madrid, where both have confirmed their presence. Further away, however, the return of Roger Federer. The Laver Cup could be the competition that marks the return of the former world number one, followed by the ATP in Basel, where he has triumphed on ten occasions.

In these days Djokovic has expressed himself on the controversial story that saw Wimbledon banning Russian and Belarusian tennis players from the 2022 edition of the Championships, saying how in this way the London Slam board would violate some fundamental rules.

Image

 

Continue Reading

News

Serena Williams Changed Sports Forever

Published

on

Looking back on the tennis legend’s career as she takes the court for the first time in over a year, and likely for one of the last times as a professional.

It has been easy to find Serena Williams lately. At awards shows and galas. Starting a venture capital fund. Reveling in the company of her daughter, Olympia. As a pitchwoman for Michelob Ultra and Subway and Chase and DirecTV and migraine pain relief.

Serena Williams is back on court at Wimbledon. Will it be her last?

But it has not been easy to find her at a tennis match. On June 26, 2021, Williams played on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, the lawn she had spent more than two decades dominating. A few minutes into her first-round match, Williams slipped on the grass and injured her leg. It may simply have been an unfortunate accident. It may have been due to the wear and tear of years and years of tennis—these things happen to bodies of even the most agile among us as we get older. Regardless, afterward, she went nearly a year without playing a professional match.

Which is how it came to be that Wimbledon 2022 experienced its first upset, its first ripple-through-the-field surprise result before the first ball was struck. In mid-June, Serena confirmed she would take a wild-card into the event. She turns 41 in September. Her ranking is 1,204 in the world—1,203 spots off her career-high. Yet, she sent a clear message: I’m not done yet.

Serena Williams Discusses Her Return to Wimbledon - The New York Times

How will she fare? If history is any indication, well, who knows? Williams could, conceivably, storm back and win. A tennis article of faith: This is a player you underrate at your peril. Yet, signs indicate the queen’s reign is over—40-year-old athletes don’t take gap years and resume their supremacy. History also suggests (strongly) that Serena dispenses with most formalities and conventions, and is thus likely to forgo a traditional retirement announcement, much less a maudlin retirement tour. Maybe this doubles as a start to a fitting farewell.

Let us then look back at one of the towering athletes—sport and gender be damned—of this generation.

Serena Williams announces plans to play in Wimbledon 2022: 'SW and SW19.  It's a date.' | Sporting News

Serena Williams was not yet 17. She had just faced an opponent who looked nothing like her, in front of thousands of fans who looked nothing like her, and now she was facing inquisitors in the U.S. Open media room full of people who looked nothing like her. It was the fall of 1998, when Serena and her older sister, Venus, were still in the alterna-band stage, hardly the full-blown transcendent, transformational rock stars they soon would become.

See also  Williams gave birth to her and Ohanian's first child, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017, just two months before they married. "I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband," she recalled to reporters in Australia, according to Essentially Sports. "It was like 'there's something about your smell, I don't like your smell'." Williams has enjoyed a strong start to the 2020 tennis season, winning all three of her matches at the ASB classic in Auckland, reaching the semifinals. She meets Amanda Anisimova on Saturday for a place in the final. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Serena Williams says she remembers unexplainedly "hating" her husband Alexsis Ohanian and "his smell" during the early days of her pregnancy. Williams gave birth to her and Ohanian's first child, Alexis Olympia, in September 2017, just over a year after the pair became engaged. They married two months later, but when she was pregnant she recalls being enraged by his smell. "I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband," she recalled to reporters in Australia, according to AFP . "I was like 'I can't stand you and I don't know why. Obviously, at the time, I didn't know why either. It was like 'there's something about your smell, I don't like your smell'. I was six weeks pregnant and had no idea. "So looking back it's so surreal and crazy and now that I'm here, I have all these funny memories of being miserable." Williams famously won the Australian Open in 2017 while seven to eight weeks pregnant, going the whole tournament without losing a single set. She subsequently bowed out from tennis for just over a year, during which time she revealed having a medical condition that made her her prone to blood clots, and therefore her pregnancy potentially life-threatening. After receiving treatment and giving birth, she returned to the court in March 2018, and has since been fighting to get back to her best form. The 38-year-old has enjoyed a strong start to 2020, winning all three of her matches at the ASB classic in Auckland to reach the semifinals, where she meets Amanda Anisimova on Saturday.

Continue Reading

News

Nicole Scherzinger Getting Married? Lewis Hamilton Hints at Proposal in Near Future

Published

on

Former Pussycat Dolls’ singer has been dating Formula One driver for five years; he tells The Sun he’ll propose “maybe before we get to six years”

Nicole Scherzinger, Lewis Hamilton

Nicole Scherzinger might be headed for the altar—sooner rather than later!

The former Pussycat Doll’s longtime boyfriend Lewis Hamilton recently hinted about a possible engagement for the couple.

“We’ve been together for five years, which is quite a milestone really,” the Formula One driver reportedly told The Sun.

And just when does he plan to pop the question? “…hopefully in the near future,” he said. “Maybe before we get to six years.”

Nicole Scherzinger rejected Lewis Hamilton's proposal thrice - Movies News

We’ll keep our fingers crossed! There have, of course, been rumors before that Nicole, 34, and Lewis, 28, were headed for marriage. Until recently, however, the couple has always denied these reports.

“They came out with some rumor the other day. Everyone was congratulating us, which was hilarious,” Nicole said in a 2011 interview with The Telegraph. “We congratulated each other on our engagement when we weren’t even engaged. ”

“We’re happy where we are right now, which is boyfriend and girlfriend,” she said at the time. “Just really happy.”

Nicole Scherzinger engaged to Lewis Hamilton - report

“Both of us believe in hard work and determination,” she added. “And both of us really appreciate what we have because of that.”

Nicole also credits her longtime love with helping her get past her battle with bulimia. In an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music that aired in 2012, the singer said Lewis “gave me the courage to kind of end that disorder and that disease.”

See also  Emma Raducanu shows support for Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in fun-filled practice session

“He made me feel beautiful for who I am and not what pant size I’m wearing and that helped a lot,” she said.

Sounds like a keeper! One thing’s for sure: Dating or soon-to-be engaged, these two make for one cute couple.

Continue Reading

News

Patrick Mouratoglou reveals some details from his split with Serena Williams

Published

on

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou said he didn’t want to end his partnership with Serena Williams on bad terms and he thinks he was pretty fair toward the 23-time Grand Slam champion. Williams, 40, hasn’t played since retiring her Wimbledon first round match last year and nobody knows exactly what the American plans to do next.

In April, Mouratoglou announced he accepted to become the new full-time coach of Simona Halep. “I wanted to be fair to her and not be disappointed at the end of my career,” Mouratoglou said. “I went to ask her what she was going to do.

Patrick Mouratoglou reveals some details from his split with Serena Williams

It wasn’t very clear to her. I asked her if she wanted to go to Roland Garros. She told me she didn’t know. It was six weeks before the tour. I told her I was waiting for her on Monday for training and if she didn’t come I would consider myself free.”

Mouratoglou was out of coaching for nearly a year

Mouratoglou thought he was done with coaching when Williams decided to take a break, but a few months later, he started missing coaching. When Halep made an offer, Mouratoglou badly wanted to return to coaching.

“After Serena decided to take a break, I confessed to my loved ones that I feel like I’m done with coaching,” Mouratoglou said. “I knew that one of my strengths was that I had a lot of enthusiasm for my work.

Without this enthusiasm I can’t be a good coach. I felt like I had lost it.” Halep has been one of the best players on the WTA Tour for the past decade and Mouratoglou thinks she is a great person too. “I think Simona is incredibly generous in everything she does.

See also  Warriors need Steph to fire back at Ja, Grizzlies to win series

She is a generous woman, in the ordinary sense, but also a generous sportswoman in effort. She is not satisfied with half measures. Courage and resilience also characterize her as a person,” Mouratoglou said of Halep.

Continue Reading

News

Lewis Hamilton ‘splits’ from model girlfriend after their romance ‘cooled off’

Published

on

iF1 ace Sir Lewis Hamilton is reportedly a single man once again, after cooling things off with pal Camila Kendra. The former couple ‘grew close’ last year – with the stunning model even wearing the star’s shirt in Instagram snaps

Sir Lewis Hamilton, 37, has reportedly split from his model girlfriend.

The F1 icon had grown close to Camila Kendra, 28, last year – with fans spotting the Dominican Republic-born beauty posting snaps from inside the driver’s house – but the budding romance is apparently all l.

According to a source, their relationship has ‘cooled off now’ and Camila has even unfollowed Lewis on Instagram.

“She was staying at his home in Colorado and although they had been pals for many years, Camila developed feelings for him and it became more romantic,” they explained to The Sun.

“It’s cooled off now though and Camila is no longer with Lewis. She’s stopped following him on Instagram too.”

They added how friends had thought the two stars would ‘make a great couple’ but they are no longer as close as they once were.

Sir Lewis Hamilton

The Mirror has approached representatives for Sir Lewis Hamilton for comment.

Rumours of a romance between Lewis and Camila first began last August, after the stunning model posted pictures from inside his Colorado home.

Eagle-eyed followers on Instagram even noticed how the star donned one of the Mercedes team driver’s plaid shirts for a snap shared online.

Another picture saw the model posing in a bralet and leggings, which one of Lewis’ trophies visible in the background.

See also  Rafael Nadal talks about playing with a small grip
Camila kendra
Camila Kendra

At the time, the pair denied a romance – with a source telling The Sun: “They’ve been friends for a few years — that’s why she’s staying at his house and wearing his shirt.”

Seven-time World Drivers’ Championship winner Lewis has dated some of the world’s most famous women over the years.

The sports star’s most famous relationship was his union with Nicole Scherzinger, who he dated on-off for eight years until their split in 2015.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis has spoken about how his career comes first in the past 

Image:

Getty Images)

Speaking two years after their break up, Lewis hinted his dedication to his career was one of the reasons for the split.

“My cars are my babies. I used to say, when I had a girlfriend, ‘’I’m taking one of the girls out, so you can come if you want, but you come second when it comes to the cars’,” Lewis confessed in 2017.

Nicole also spoke out about the end of their romance, claiming they had become too ‘comfortable’ within their relationship.

Lewis and Nicole

Lewis and Nicole were together on and off between 2007 and 2015 

Image:

Getty Images)

In an interview with People, she said: “Sometimes people stay in relationships because they get complacent, because it’s comfortable for them, because they don’t want to be alone.

“It’s a new chapter in my life. I’m going through a very transformative time in my life.”

Since parting ways with the former Pussycat Dolls singer, Lewis has been linked with several famous women, including Gigi Hadid, Rihanna, Rita Ora and Kendall Jenner.

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at webcelebs@mirror.co.uk or call us direct at 0207 29 33033.

Continue Reading