The Roland Garros organizers paid tribute to the 13-time champion Rafael Nadal on Thursday, unveiling Nadal's statue at the Stade Roland Garros complex. Rafa arrived in Paris on Wednesday and embraced his first practice session with Karen Khachanov on Court Philippe-Chatrier today before receiving a massive honor.
The FFT President Gilles Moretton and the sculptor Jordi Diez Fernandez, one of the leading Spanish artists, were also presented at the ceremony that honors one of the greatest players of all time and his Roland Garros achievements.
Alongside Nadal, aviator Roland Garros and famous 'Four Musketeers' Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste have also received their statues at one of the most essential tennis complexes in the world of tennis.
The statue is constructed entirely of stainless steel and stands three meters tall, 4,89 meters wide and two meters deep, displaying Nadal while hitting his trademark forehand. Nadal claimed the first Roland Garros crown on his debut in 2005, defeating Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta en route to tennis glory.
The Spaniard was the player to beat in Paris in the following three years, toppling Federer in three straight finals to stand on four titles at 22!
The 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal received a statue in Paris.
Rafa added five more Roland Garros crowns to his tally between 2010-2014, becoming the most dominant player at a single Major with nine trophies under his belt.
Nadal wasn't at his best in Paris in 2015 and 2016 after numerous injuries, losing to Novak Djokovic and withdrawing the following year to stay away from his beloved title for two years. Since 2017, Rafa has restored the order at the only clay Major, securing four consecutive titles and improving his record to mind-blowing 13 trophies, a feat that will never be repeated in the future.
Rafa came to Roland Garros last October with only a couple of tournaments in his legs and no form, facing challenging conditions and new Wilson balls. Rising to the occasion, Nadal toppled all seven rivals in straight sets to confirm his Parisian dominance, ousting Novak Djokovic in the title clash to secure the 20th Major crown and join Roger Federer at the top of the GOAT race. Rafa will face Alexei Popyrin next week in his first match, seeking the 101st Roland Garros triumph from 103 encounters.