Rafael Nadal Says Fatherhood Has Been an ‘Unexpected’ Adventure

Rafael Nadal Reveals How Fatherhood Has Been an Unexpected Adventure
Rafael Nadal David Becker/Getty Images

When it comes to life as a father, Rafael Nadal admits it hasn’t been as easy as game, set, match.

The tennis superstar, 37, who welcomed his first child, son Rafael, in October 2022 with wife Maria Francisca Perelló, said he’s been forced into plenty of on-the-job dad training.

“Everything surprises you because everything is new,” he told E! News during a press conference on Saturday, March 2. “Especially the first kid you have, everything is 100 percent new for my wife and for me. So you learn everyday, and every day is unexpected.”

Luckily, Nadal was able to draw on his own experiences growing up to prepare him for fatherhood.

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“I have always been a kids guy,” he continued. “I always enjoyed spending time with the kids, I had plenty of smaller cousins than me so I had a lot of fun with them when they were babies.”

Nadal expressed his gratitude for the health of his son, gushing, “I can say nothing negative. I am lucky that for the moment the baby is doing very well. We are happy.”

Rafael Nadal Reveals How Fatherhood Has Been an Unexpected Adventure
Rafa Nadal and his wife Xisca Perello David Benito/Getty Images

The 22-time Grand Slam champion was speaking ahead of the inaugural Netflix Slam, which saw Nadal go head-to-head with Carlos Alcaraz in an exhibition match in front of 10,000 fans at Mandalay Bay’s Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

A first-of-its kind event, the match streamed live on Netflix and was won by Alcaraz, 20, in a dramatic third-set tiebreak.

The event marked Nadal’s return to the tennis court after a nagging hip injury kept him away from the sport for the better part of two years. He was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open in January after aggravating the injury during a match at the Brisbane Invitational, his first event in almost a year, earlier in the month.

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Despite his impressive performance against Alcaraz, Nadal admitted even his body hasn’t been immune to the passage of time.

“What put me in a position to be close to retirement,” Nadal explained during the press conference, “is my body more than anything else because my mind is healthy in terms of passion for what I’m doing.”

Up next, Nadal is scheduled to play the Indian Wells Open, which begins March 6 in Indian Wells, California.

The 14-time French Open champion and his wife, whom Nadal married in October 2019, announced the arrival of their son in October 2022.

“Hello everyone. After a few days and many messages of affection I just wanted to thank you all!” he shared on social media. “We are very happy and all very well! A big hug.”