Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer sprung a special surprise on 34 Rafa Nadal International School students at their graduation Tuesday. The superstars imparted life lessons the kids won’t soon forget, with Federer revealing how he feels the legendary rivals have stood apart from the rest of the ATP Tour.
“Never forget to have fun. I think that’s the most important and that’s what has separated maybe Rafa and myself, that we never lost our passion for what we are doing every single day,” Federer told the students. “There are going to be rainy days, it’s going to be tough [some] days, but there is always a silver lining. There is always going to be the sun that’s going to come back around. Just make sure you keep on working really hard.”
Photo Credit: Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar
Nadal complimented the students’ efforts during these tough times, and urged them to pursue their dreams.
“We’re very proud of you at the Academy. I would like to thank all the parents for the trust they have placed in us, particularly in the times we are going through. We have tried to meet expectations, we have tried to do things as well as possible given everything that is occurring,” Nadal said. “We have been through very difficult and complicated times. I hope it has been a period of learning for all of you. Life, most of the time, is not easy. Hopefully this period of time has helped you to gain strength and experience for the challenges you may face in the future.
“We can learn from all of this that we need to be surrounded by good people, those who give us positive things so that life is more positive. It is vital to make the right decisions at key times in our lives.”
Federer, who connected to the ceremony by video, wished the students well no matter where their lives lead, on or off the court.
“I’m sure you had a great learning experience at the Academy in school. But also away [from the classroom], I hope you learned from Rafa. He is a champion in so many ways. He is very humble,” Federer said. “Always remember to be kind. Remember to be kind to others. You are only as strong as your team and I hope you go on and have a successful and a wonderful career in whatever you are doing, and when you look back at these days in the Academy, [you remember them] as some of the best days of your life.”
The Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, where the Grade 12 students train on court, set up its facilities to allow social distancing at the graduation ceremony. The event included a minute of silence in the memory of COVID-19 victims.
Former WTA World No. 1 Maria Sharapova also sent the students a video message before the end of the ceremony, when Nadal helped award the students their diplomas.