Paris: After lifting his 12th French Open crown, Rafael Nadal has reflected on success, vanity and the personal will to succeed which made him one of the best tennis players of all time.
His gestures were relaxed despite coming after two weeks of fierce competition. Nadal made himself comfortable on an armchair at the hotel he has used to stay every year since his first French Open success in 2005. Here are the excerpts:
Q: Have you had time to read the front pages of today’s newspapers?
A: No, I have not seen anything, I have not had time yet. I am accustomed to reading the news and I see things that come out about me, but I am not a great fan of reading a lot of what is said about me.
I am accustomed to reading headlines and some articles in particular, but not much. Neither when things go badly, nor when they go very well.
What gives me satisfaction is what I have done myself, more than what they could say. The acknowledgment is one of the nicest things one can have.
I have to show gratitude for the affection and the support media has shown me, they have behaved well with me.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 10, 2019
Q: What can one do to avoid falling prey to vanity?
A: I think it is easier to fall when you are 19 or 20 years old, when you start. This happens to some people. But at 33, it is not the time to fall for these things.
I have had people around me my entire life and they have transmitted a proper education to avoid it. Luckily, I also have been humble enough or respectful to listen and pay attention to the people who are around me.
Q: Is that humility the only way to win 12 French Open titles?
A: For now, yes, because only I have done it. But there are a lot of ways to achieve success. Not all the best sportsmen in history are humble.
Certainly they are (hard) workers, but some people do not have to be humble to triumph as sportsmen. The necessary thing is work, dedication and ability.
Q: How is your relationship with success?
A: I live it with normally. One of the keys to be able to be where I am is not having big peaks of happiness. Neither to think a big deal of myself nor very little when things do not go the way I like.
I think my emotional state is stable and this helps me to be able to focus on my life and my professional career in a coherent and relaxed way.
No big deal, just 29 Grand Slam singles titles here…
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) June 9, 2019
Q: Does the fact that you have not abandoned your hometown of Manacor help in that?
A: What helps me is the education I have received as a child and the examples the people around me set.
Q: You have said that this Roland Garros title is special given the difficult moment you went through a little more than a month ago due to injuries. Do you take more pride in the way you get past bad moments than the success you achieve?
A: The thing is that, in the end, personal success is much more powerful than professional success. Personal success is to have the capacity of overcoming complicated moments, to have perseverance when it is difficult.
Roland Garros fills me with satisfaction, of course, but my greatest satisfaction is to have had, during these last five weeks, the will to have an attitude change and to appreciate the little improvements. And I have done it thanks to the support of my team.
Q: Have these months, after the Indian Wells injury, been the worst moments emotionally?
A: I do not think it is the lowest moment. It was in 2005 when they diagnosed me with a foot injury and told me that maybe I will not be able to play tennis at the same level as I had done till then.
You get tired from receiving knocks in the form of continuous injuries.
It is not an issue of professional activity. Having continuous pain, too much pain that does not allow you to have a nice life during a lot of time can make you feel down.
Q: Does the fact that you have to get past all this gives you more strength?
A: I have always had strength, thus I have achieved what I have achieved.
But evidently coming out of tough moments makes you strong and helps you in the future to see things with enthusiasm and with a more positive perspective.