Tennis great Rafael Nadal is the son of Ana Maria Parera and Sebastian Nadal. He was born in Manacor, in the Baleric Islands, Spain. The 30-year-old Nadal also has a younger sister, Maria Isabel Nadal, who is often seen cheering him on.
Sport is in Nadal’s blood. His uncle Miguel Angel Nadal is a former professional soccer player. His other uncle, Toni Nadal, was a former pro tennis player himself and is credited with discovering Nadal’s natural tennis talent. Toni Nadal is also Nadal’s coach, along with Carlos Moya.
Here’s a look at Nadal’s family.
1. Nadal’s Father Is a Businessman Who Owns His Own Restaurant & Window Company
The luxury travel agency My Premium Europe listed Sa Punta as one of Nadal’s favorite places to go in Mallorca. “The combination of the ocean view, the service, and the food—I always order the catch of the day, grilled—make it a perfect spot,” Nadal told the site.
Sebastian’s brothers, Toni and Miguel Angel, own part of the family businesses as well. According to the Independent, the brothers agreed very early into Nadal’s life that Toni would be responsible for nurturing Nadal’s tennis talents.
“I trust him because he is my coach and I have to believe in him,” Nadal told the Independent. “I think I’ve always listened a lot – to all the people and, for sure, my uncle too. Sometimes I cannot agree with a few things, but if he told me something on the practice court, even if I do not agree I will do it. Inside you might not agree, but it’s probably easier to watch what’s going on from the outside.”
2. Nadal’s Uncle Miguel Angel Was Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ During His Pro Soccer Career
Nadal’s uncle is the retired soccer player Miguel Angel Nadal Homar, who played for Manacor, Mallorca and Barcelona. He was a key player on Spain’s national teams during the 1990s, playing in three World Cups and the Euro 1996. He retired at age 39 was an assistant coach for Mallorca in 2010 and 2011.
As The Guardian noted in a 2001 profile of Miguel Angel, he was nicknamed the “Beast of Barcelona” by British newspapers. He came close to signing with Manchester United in 1996, but decided to stay in Spain.
“I would have liked to play in England. The grounds there have a special character which is different to Spain, and I’ve got very good memories of Wembley, even though we lost there in Euro 96,” Miguel Angel told The Guardian in 2001. “I had other offers later, but going at 20-odd is one thing, it’s different when you’re older and you’ve got a family.”
3. Nadal Has Been Asked About Possible Jewish Roots in His Family, but Says He’s Not Jewish
Since Nadal’s full name is Rafael Nadal Parera, there have been questions about him possibly having Jewish ancestors. As the Times of Israel noted in 2013, “Parera” was a “converso” last name taken by many newly baptized Jews during the 15th Century as a”neutral” name to hide their Jewish past.
In 2013, a Times of Israel reporter asked Nadal about his family having Jewish roots during the US Open. “That’s not true. Really doesn’t matter for me. Doesn’t matter if I am or am not. But is not the case. I am not,” Nadal replied.
In a 2010 interview with Sports Illustrated, Nadal said it’s “hard” for him to beleive god exists. He said:
It’s hard to say, “I don’t believe in God.” I would love to know if God exists. But it’s a very difficult thing for me to believe. I don’t know. It’s private and I don’t want to speak about it, but I say, “If God exists, you don’t need [to cross yourself] or pray.” If God exists, he’s intelligent enough to [do] the important things, the right things.
4. Nadal’s Parents Split in 2009 & There Was Speculation That it Was Hurting His Play
In 2009, the Barcelona newspaper La Vanguardia reported that Nadal’s parents split that year, ESPN reported at the time. In 2009, he lost the French Open, the only year between 2005 and 2014 he lost that tournament. Nadal didn’t even make the final, and Federer won the championship. Therefore, there was speculation in the Spanish media that his poor play was connected to his parents’ split.
“We do not comment on personal issues for Rafa. We never did, and we are not going to at this moment,” Nadal’s media manager, Benito Perez-Barbadillo, told ESPN. “There are no excuses whatsoever for his defeat at Roland Garros… He said that clearly.”
“For me, family and friends are very important,” Nadal told The Independent. “If you’re from smaller places everything is easier, everything is closer. I’m from Mallorca, from a small village, so I always have my family around – not just my mother and sister, but my uncles, my cousins, everyone. Everybody is really close. I see all my family every day.”
According to The Huffington Post, Nadal wrote in Rafa: My Story that his parents split was devastating. “They were the mainstay of my life and that pillar had crumbled. I was depressed, I lacked enthusiasm. I had lost all love for life,” he wrote.
However, his parents did get back together in 2011.
5. Nadal Is Really Close to His Younger Sister, Maria Isabel
Nadal’s sister, Maira Isabel, also known as Maribel, is five years younger than him. The two have stayed close, even as Nadal became one of the greatest tennis players in the world.
“Most boys growing up see their younger sisters as irritations, especially when they are teenagers but that has never been the way Rafael has treated me,” Maria Isabel said in an excerpt from Rafa: My Story. “He’s always urged me to come along when he goes out with his friends. It’s natural to us, even if others might sometimes find it strange, and it’s part of the secret of our special bond.”
Maria Isabel does have an official Facebook page, but she hasn’t used it since 2013.