Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal’s 2016 season may not be what he had hoped.
He suffered his first defeat in the first round of the Australian Open by compatriot Fernando Verdasco. At the Rome Masters, he was again defeated by Novak Djokovic where they played in the quarterfinals. He got injured and withdrew at Roland Garros, skipped Wimbledon and withdrew from the French Open. He also failed to make the final at either the Rio Olympics or the US Open.
However, during an exhibition match in his native Mallorca, the former tennis No. 1 remains a hero in at least one mother’s eye and now, the whole world.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner Nadal, who was preparing to make a serve, was playing with teenager Simon Solbas against Carlos Moya and John McEnroe in a charity doubles exhibition when a commotion in the crowd caught his attention.
An increasingly distraught woman broke the quiet that usually surrounds tennis matches by shouting, “Clara!” It turns out, it was a mother who was frantically looking for her child, who had gone missing.
The 2008 Olympic gold medalist stopped playing while the distraught mother and the entire stadium searched for the lost young child. The little girl, who is understandably frightened and crying, was found a few sections nearby and quickly reunited with her mother.
The crowd erupted in applause at the reunion while the 28-time ATP World Tour Masters winner smiled and the match resumed. Even hard as nail McEnroe shed a tear or two at the 2014 French Open winner’s gesture.
This latest gesture from Nadal is a testament to the Spaniard’s generosity on and off the court. He may have an indifferent 2016, but in the eyes of the world and a particular mother and child, the 17-time ATP World Tour winner is a hero through and through.
Photo courtesy: Doha Stadium Plus Qatar/Flickr