Early this morning, Rafael Nadal received a very special message. Before playing in the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open, the Spaniard read some heartfelt words on social media. Among his 15 million followers on Twitter, a platform that provides direct contact with fans, somebody’s message stood out over the rest.
“Today, my grandmother, at 95 years of age, will fulfil her dream of seeing you live”, read the message from Carlos Carrizosa, the grandson of the protagonist of this wonderful story. “She is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and she told me that before she forgets what tennis and you mean to her, she wanted to see you live. I hope that she enjoys this day as much as I’m enjoying it”.
His grandmother, Manuela Navarro Esteban, was hugely excited as they made their way to the Caja Mágica on Friday. There, they were able to see the winner of 87 ATP Tour titles and one of the legends of modern sport in the flesh at the Mutua Madrid Open. But they cannot have imagined how much they would enjoy their day.
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 7, 2021
At 15:00 she was in one of the seats in the Manolo Santana Stadium, the Madrid tournament’s centre court. In an intense atmosphere, just a few metres from the court, Manuela enjoyed the power of the Mallorcan close up. Although Rafa did not reach the tournament’s penultimate round, the support from one of his biggest fans was just as strong as it has been for his greatest victories.
Despite being unable to celebrate a victory for her favourite player, who was beaten by the German Alexander Zverev in a pulsating match, Manuela was able to enjoy a moment she will surely treasure.
At the end of the match, having been knocked out of the Madrid ATP Masters 1000, the Spaniard was delighted to meet Manuela, who was patiently waiting at the exit to the locker rooms. Behind the scenes in the Caja Mágica, minutes after competing in front of all the fans, Nadal dedicated some of his time to one of his biggest fans. They shared a conversation in which they were able to exchange words of affection. Nadal met one of his most fervent supporters, contemplating what he represents to so many generations of fans. And Manuela, simply delighted to see him play, then had the pleasure of meeting him face to face. It was a beautiful moment that will go down in the annals of the tournament.