Rafael Nadal is, at time of writing, the world number two and has won 17 Grand Slam titles. This makes them one of the greatest tennis players of all time and he is only 3 Grand Slam titles behind his rival Roger Federer. We caught up with the famous tennis player and asked him everything about his fashion style on and off the tennis course and also talked about traveling and his new yacht.
Q: Rafael, in your early years you were always playing your games in sleeveless shirts but we don’t see this anymore.
A: I’ve decided to put my muscles away. I used to wear sleeveless T-shirts all the time on court, but now I’ve got a brand new look – I’ve moved on to polo shirts. Sleeveless T-shirts give you real freedom of movement and they keep you cooler in matches, but I just thought it was time for a change. I do love a headband. I started wearing them when I got seriously into tennis, at about 13 years old. I’ve got dozens of them in lots of different colours.
Q: Can you tell us about your fashion style of the tennis course?
A: Away from the court I always wear casual clothes. You’ll find me in jeans and a T-shirt or a polo shirt teamed with a jacket – I just put on whatever I feel comfortable in.
I’ve got 1 big fashion secret: my mother used to tell me what to wear not too long ago. I still take advice from my mum on what clothes look good on me. I used to listen to her a lot more, but I’ve started to choose my own things from time to time.
Like a lot of sportsmen, I find trousers can give me serious problems. I often find it difficult to find a pair that fits me well. The way I’m built means I have muscular thighs and calves and a thin waist, so trousers very often don’t fit. They’re either right for my waist and I can’t get them on, or big enough to clear my thighs and really baggy around the waist. Usually I end up wearing the bigger pair and holding them up with a belt.
Q: What about tattoo’s? We don’t see tattoo’s that often on the tennis course like we see it on a football pitch.
A: Body art isn’t for me. I’ll never have a tattoo – I just don’t like them, and when you’re old they can look a disaster. As for piercings, I don’t like them on men.
Q: As a tennis player you are travelling a lot. Doesn’t that get boring?
A: I’d be lost without my music. I travel so much I couldn’t bear to be without it – it means I can listen to my favourite Spanish and Latin artists any time I want. I like listening to both styles of music before I go on court, as they’re upbeat and energetic – they get me in the mood. I also love Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams.
Q: Talking about traveling. I do know you own a nice boat. What does having a boat mean for you?
A: Let me tell you, to me being on my boat gives me the chance to get away when I want to get away, you know.
I love to be with people but, at the same time, it gives me the chance to get away and to be with myself, or only with the people that I want to be with, every time that I need to.
That’s something very important with my lifestyle today. I love the sea and I think I could live on the sea, so maybe in the future I will spend a lot of time on-board, it’s something I like as a lifestyle and that I love.
Q: Do you like to steer your boat yourself?
A: I have a captain. I need a captain. I am not here all the time… I think you need a captain with this kind of yacht and, at the same time, I spend more than a half year not being at home, so I need somebody to take care of everything.
The good news is that my captain is a great friend of mine, ever since I was a kid, so when I am here, it’s even better. When I come home and sometimes my friends are working, my family is working, my girlfriend has to work, I go out with my captain who is also my friend, so that’s unbelievably good.
I very much like to drive the boat, yes. I don’t have the licence to drive this kind of boat but when I’m there with the captain I do and I really love it.
Q: Could you tell us something about your sailing trips? What they are like, with whom you prefer to share your cruises, what is your relationship with the sea?
A: I love to be with my friends, I love to be with my family, I love to be with my girlfriend Xisca when I have the chance. Those are the people I am normally with when I am on board my boat. Every year, I take a week just with my friends to go around the islands, we have a lot of fun. It’s becoming a tradition for me and for all my friends since I was a small kid, so we are always together doing this trip, every year. It’s one-week trip, normally five to seven days, it depends how much time we have, but less than five days never happened and, when I’m with my girlfriend I try to go for many days as well. Quite often, you know, in the afternoon I go out at sea with my yacht and sleep away. I come back the next morning to work.
I try to go with my cousins, I have a lot of small cousins, like thirteen between ten and fifteen years old and I love to be with them, sometimes I go with them too. Those are my trips.
Q: In your opinion, is sailing an adventure? Can you tell us about any significant events as a boat-owner?
A: Well, always when you are on a boat you have to be ready because weather conditions can always change and it’s a little bit of an adventure. I like the feeling that sometimes the sea provides you, because things happen suddenly and you need to be quick in taking decisions. For example, last year we were coming back from Ibiza and we had very, very rough conditions for one and a half hours on the way to Mallorca. The waves came over the boat so well, it was tough, but I was also happy to be in the middle of those sea conditions. I was cruising with the MCY 76 and the boat resisted very well and I was happy to see how she reacted in those conditions.
Q: Where do you like to take the yacht when going on a trip?
A: Well, normally, I stay between Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Cabrera, all around the Balearic Islands. In Mallorca I think there are two different kind of places; it’s a combination because on the West side we have the back of the mountains, Sierra Tramuntana, which is amazing, amazingly beautiful but it’s true that there are not many beaches, it’s different… the views are different. On this side of the island where we are now, the East side, there are a lot of beaches, it’s flatter.
I like both things. You know, the mountains are unbelievable because you see them falling into the sea, it’s amazing. At the same time, here we have a lot of beaches and nice places that I can go away to. We can swim, in a clear water, 100% crystal clear everywhere. I love, you know, both sides. There are also a few other places that I want to know. I would like to discover all the Mediterranean, to take the boat and go to Croatia, to Greece, to Turkey. For sure, Sardinia and Corsica too. Discover the Mediterranean is one of the things I’m focused on, one of the goals that I have in the next couple of years when I will have the chance. Today, it’s not possible. It is too important for me to keep doing well the things that I am doing and be professional today, but it’s something that I really want to do in the future. Go out with the boat and be there for two months, getting familiar with all the Mediterranean. That’s the first step and then I would love to be in the Caribbean with the boat. I think it is a great place to be because there are a lot of islands close to each other and you don’t need to cruise for days to reach them. It’s something that I really want to do.
Q: How much time do you manage to spend aboard in a year?
A: Actually, my yacht is one of the places where I spend more time when I am in Mallorca. I love to be here, I love to be in Mallorca, I love to come back and to be with my friends, with my family, with all the people that I really love. I mean, it is something very important to maintain, close to me. At the same time, it is so important to have the boat always waiting for me, even if I don’t use it every time. It is so important to know I can use it every time that I need it. This is something that makes me happy and helps me to enjoy and to distract myself when I need it.
Q: If you compare a tennis match and crossing the sea, what would you say they have in common?
A: Sincerely, I don’t think there are many similarities. They are different things. Maybe if we talk about sailing, the competition is a different story, you know. Because the way I am… I don’t have the time to go sailing or this kind of things. I use the boat when the conditions are mostly good, so I am not in a competition. I love competition of course, but when I am on my boat I am not competing, I just relax and have fun with my family and friends.
TEXT: FRANSESCO MICHIENZI // PHOTOGRAPHY: TOMMY HILFIGER