The Statue in Honor of Rafael Nadal Unveiled at Roland Garros
After having written the history and achieving the highest glories on the clay of Paris, Rafael Nadal took a new step towards the legend, this time not by personally making one, with the inauguration of a statue with his figure at Roland Garros. This was done by the organizers of one of the four official men’s tennis Grand Slams by which they wanted to pay Spaniard the tribute he deserves in this way.
It was the artist Jordi Díez, Nadal’s fellow countryman, who devised the work, in which the Mallorcan, sculpted in steel, appears suspended on cables imitating the performance of his most emblematic hit – the drive.
“I love it,” stated the tennis player after seeing the unveiling of a sculpture that will leave his deeds engraved in metal in the French capital: “There’s no place in the world that’s more special for me than Roland Garros to have this sculpture. It means a lot to me, it’s a great honor”, added ‘Rafa’.
The image of Nadal will remain like this forever along with ‘The Four Musketeers’ (members of the France National Team that ended the seven-year dominance of the United States in Davis Cup in 1927), who marked the first years of the Roland Garros history and that of the aviator after whom the name of the Paris tournament got its name and which was unveiled last April.
“The idea of the cable suspension was intended to imply that the ball is going at high speed,” said the sculptor, who was immediately attracted to the idea expressed by the former president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) Bernard Giudicelli to shape the tennis player – which is actually the idea of immortalizing Nadal. Just a few days later, Díez sent several projects and they chose his favorite, which has been erected in the tournament facilities that are undergoing a deep renovation.
It was a way to ignite a figure that has broken all the statistics of the Grand Slam court in Paris, where he made 100 wins and only two losses and where from next Sunday he will fight to lift his 14th title, playing against Australian Alexei Popyrin (which is the match on which you can bet at bookmakers with iOS apps).
The Sculptor Explained the Essence of the Statue
Díez used 800 kilograms of stainless steel to immortalize the tennis player in a work in which he wanted to capture the values that, in his opinion, Nadal represents. The statue is 3 meters high, 4.89 meters wide, and 2 meters deep.
”Rafa represents many aspects, but they all come down to strength, not only physical but also mental, which is more important. That was the driving force of my work”, he explained. A follower of excellence rather than sport, the Valladolid artist based in Barcelona became obsessed with the work to try to capture his idea of the champion as faithfully as possible.
Díez went to Mallorca to take measurements of Nadal’s entire body and made a cast of his hands, ‘data’ that he transferred to his workflow where for weeks he tried to find the essence of the Spanish player. One day, Díez admitted, he was sure: “Rafa has come.” In his eyes, the tennis player had finally been captured in his game and the artist acknowledged that the tears wet his eyes.
The sculptor considers ‘outdated’ the idea that a work should be dedicated to a character whose footprint is part of the past and believes that currently it also serves to “reinforce a tribute that Rafa is making history.”
”I’m centralizing the emotion of many people right now – paying a tribute to a character in history which trying to keep his memory from going away. But here the objective is to enhance his figure, his magnitude – it’s another dimension that seems more powerful to me”, Díez stressed.
In addition, he considers it particularly great that his sculpture, the first to present a living character, is at Roland Garros, “the place in the world where tennis radiates most strongly to the rest of the planet.” In his conversations with Nadal, Díez found something of what he already sensed, “a character close within his strength”, something that he also believes he senses in the Argentine footballer Lionel Messi, whom he would like to do a sculpture one day.