Maria Francisca Perello, known as Xisca to most, is the girlfriend of the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world, Rafael Nadal. Perello and Nadal have been together for over a decade already.
The 28-year-old Perello can often be seen cheering her 30-year-old boyfriend on, although she was initially hesitant to appear at his matches. Perello still shies away from being in the public eye as she explained in a rare interview with The Telegraph.
“He asked me if I wanted to go [to a sponsorship dinner], but I chose not to,” Perello told The Telegraph. “I stayed in our hotel. When Rafael got back he said, ‘Thank God you didn’t come’. The place had been swarming with photographers. For me to have gone would have meant stepping into that celebrity world. It’s not a world I want to be part of, nor do I think Rafa would have chosen to be with a woman who looked for that in life.
Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. She Has Been Dating Nadal for Over a Decade
Perello is part of an important support system in Nadal’s life. Since they starting dating in 2005, she has been one of the three most important people in Nadal’s life.
The Huffington Post noted in 2013 that his mother, Ana Maria Parera; sister Isabel; and Perello provide emotional support and are important to his success on and off the court.
Although Nadal doesn’t often talk about Perello, he was still asked about her in an awkward interview after he beat Gael Monfils at the Australian Open.
“Now finally after 10 years my girlfriend gets a wildcard to come here,” Nadal said.
“A wildcard? I’m speechless. That’s a wildcard? She’s not a main draw player? She needs a special entry?” the reporter responded.
“You know uhh… better we stop here,” an embarrassed Nadal replied.
2. She Studied Business Administration in London & Works for Nadal’s Foundation
Instead of always following Nadal around and watching him succeed, Perello has worked hard to be a success in her own right. Not only has she gone to London to study Business Administration, but has majored in English too.
Perello used to work for Mapfre, a Spanish insurance company that had an endorsement deal with Nadal.
She is also Project Director for the Rafael Nadal Foundation, which Nadal founded in 2008 to help socially-disadvantaged children around the world, particularly with education and sport.
“At the RafaNadal Foundation, we work to promote a healthy personal development and complete social integration for the most socially disadvantaged youngsters, in order to improve their future prospects,” reads a statement on the foundation’s site. “At the same time, we want to foster the intrinsic positive values and attitudes of sport in children and young people.”
3. They Met in Their Hometown in Spain
Perello met Nadal while growing up in Palma de Majorca, island off the coast of Spain. Both Nadal’s and Perello’s families currently reside there.
In a 2011 interview with The Telegraph, Perello said that it’s not a good idea to travel with Nadal everywhere. Even when her family asks about her famous boyfriend, she refuses to talk about him.
“Even if my family asks me about Rafael, I prefer not to say much,” Perello told The Telegraph. “The fact is that I just don’t feel comfortable talking about these things, even in private. It’s what works for me, and what works for Rafael and me as a couple. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In that same interview, Perello said that she initially did not want to attend Nadal’s matches.
“He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around waiting on his needs all day wears me out,” she told the Telegraph. “It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me … No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there’s a risk we might stop getting along.”
4. Perello Rarely Does Interviews & Isn’t Publicly Active on Social Media
Although Xisca prefers to stay out of the spotlight, there hasn’t been much she could to to stop people from noticing her. There is a Facebook fan page full of pictures of her in her daily life. There is more than one page praising the Mallorcan beauty, but click here to see the main fan page.
Perello also does not have her own public Instagram page, but her fans have set one up to show off pictures of her.
5. She is Not Interested in Being Famous
Perello has made a great attempt to avoid all the things that comes with being a celebrity and its status. Nadal has rarely spoken about her in media to respect these wishes. According to Fabwags.com, Perello has been described as “a straightforward no-nonsense girl not interested in glamour and fame.”
A close friend of the couple, Pedro Hernadez told FabWags.com:
Raf and Xisca are both very shy and ordinary people who like to live simply. They are not at all interested in a celebrity lifestyle. They get together when the tournaments are over. That’s how Raf winds down.”
The reason Perello does not attend many of his matches is because she doesn’t want to distract him while he is playing tennis. That’s another reason she chooses to stay out of the spotlight.