Serena, Swiatek, Raducanu Draw Inspiration From Nadal At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 25, 2022

Serena, Swiatek, Raducanu Draw Inspiration From Nadal At Wimbledon

Spaniard seeking to complete third leg of calendar Grand Slam

Never before has Rafael Nadal entered Wimbledon after winning the year’s first two Grand Slam events. But with the 2022 Australian Open and Roland Garros titles in tow, a trophy in his 15th Wimbledon would put him on the brink of the Grand Slam — winning all four majors in the same year. That feat that has not been achieved in men’s singles since Rod Laver in 1969.

Tennis fans and players alike have taken note of the 36-year-old’s historic season, including many of the WTA’s most popular players.

“He’s done a lot in 2022. He’s been busy,” Serena Williams said Saturday in her Wimbledon pre-tournament press conference. “I’ve always been a Rafa fan… so obviously I’m always rooting for Rafa. He’s been really inspiring in everything that he’s done this year. And he has a lot more to do.”

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Williams named one of her dogs after the Spaniard — Christopher Chip Rafael Nadal, a Yorkshire Terrier. The 40-year-old Williams, who is preparing for her first competitive singles match since last year’s Wimbledon, is eager to join Nadal among this season’s Grand Slam champions.

WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who captured the Roland Garros singles title earlier this month, is similarly impressed by her fellow Paris champion. The Pole enters Wimbledon on a 35-match winning streak after scoring her second title in the French capital. She also reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, where she was able to watch Nadal’s five-set comeback against Daniil Medvedev from inside Rod Laver Arena.

“I watched the Australian Open final live and I could see how much work he’s putting [in],” she said. “Sometimes when he’s not even playing his best tennis, how he’s coming back, finding solutions on court, it’s a great inspiration.

“For sure, the way he’s coping with [the] injury and the pain that he has, it’s just the example of how the best kind of athletes deal with that. It’s just really inspirational. Only Rafa could do it, you know?”

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Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu also had her say on the Spaniard. Though the 19-year-old is firmly in the spotlight as she returns to her native Great Britain for her second Wimbledon, she has managed to find time to watch the likes of Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the practice courts.

“I’m 19…  just to be watching Rafa and Novak at such close range, to be able to take part and try to learn from them, walk amongst these great players, it’s still special,” she said. “I don’t think it really ever changes when you’re watching those greats. It’s amazing to have them around leading such a great example.

“It’s only my second Wimbledon, and I’m really new to this still. It’s a really special feeling.”

Nadal, the second seed at Wimbledon, is set to open his campaign on Tuesday against Francisco Cerundolo. It will be his first competitive action since he lifted the Roland Garros trophy on 5 June.

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