Rafael Nadal and girlfriend, Maria “Xisca” Perello, are notoriously private about their relationship. After initially preferring to avoid the spotlight, Perello now attends Nadal’s big matches, but Nadal’s girlfriend still keeps a low profile. This led to an awkward moment after Nadal’s win in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open.
Nadal was asked by Jim Courier how he and Perello planned to spend their time together between matches. As expected, Nadal avoided giving many details to Courier, but did note his girlfriend is more than a “wildcard” now that the couple has been dating for 14 years.
Courier: I see Maria, your girlfriend, she’s back in Australia again this year and I’m wondering, you have a day and a half now off. What do you guys like to do when you’re not working, when you are here in Australia and you have a little bit of time. I told you, you were not going to like this question.
Nadal: …As I say to you a couple of years ago in 2017, I think, it was the first time she was able to be here. She received a wild card in that moment. Now, after 14 years together she does not need wildcards at all…She’s coming whenever she wants. That’s how it works. What am I going to do? Rest, try to sleep well tonight. Then have the right breakfast tomorrow. Have some rest in the afternoon and try to wake up with my 100 percent energy for that quarterfinal match. That’s all.
It is unclear what Nadal was referring to by “wildcard”, but the tennis player may have been referencing his girlfriend now regularly attending matches. Perello spoke with The Telegraph in 2011 about her previous stance on not attending matches.
“Traveling together everywhere, even if I could, would not be good either for him or for me,” Perello told The Telegraph. “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. 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.”
Here’s a look at Courier’s on-court interview with Nadal.
Nadal’s Girlfriend, Xisca, Is Part of His Foundation Team
Perello may not enjoy the spotlight, but she is passionate about helping Nadal give back. Perello is the Director of Strategy and Relations with Institutions of the Rafa Nadal Foundation.
Nadal uses his notoriety as one of the top tennis players in the world to help young people in need. Here is an overview of the foundation’s vision and mission, per their website.
In the Rafa Nadal Foundation we strongly believe in the transformative power of sport and education, two tools that allow children and teenagers to go as far as they can, regardless of their background or personal and social conditions, even for those who have learning difficulties or disability…
Our mission is based upon the belief that every child and youth should have access to equal opportunities now and in the future. Through our projects in Spain and India, we work alongside with them to make the most of their abilities, empowering them and fostering values such as self-improvement, respect and effort.