Rafa Nadal's Mother Ana Maria Parera Interview
Rafa's mother has been giving out some interviews which is a great read, of course because it is always great to hear from someone so close to Rafa besides Uncle Toni..
I've taken the liberty to translate them myself here in my hotel room..Spain is beautiful btw.. Enjoy guys!
"We Don't Speak About Tennis At Home With Rafa"
Interview with As.com
Off the court, few people know Rafael Nadal as his mother, Ana Maria Parera. Nadal and Federer will face in two matches to benefit their respective foundations, today and tomorrow in Zurich and Madrid. And Ana Maria Parera reveals the keys to Rafa Nadal Foundation.
For starters, let's talk about the idea of Rafa Nadal Foundation. You, Ana Maria, is responsible for coordinating activities, you traveled to India, control the remaining matters at the Caja Magica.
We started with this idea three years ago. The first thing we had to do was to clarify to ourselves was to know where we were going and what we wanted. Now, at this point, I think we are handling a solid project
With a few guidelines between today and tomorrow, you are going for the match in Zurich to the Caja Magica in Madrid.
The Foundation is open to three lines of work: support for disabled children, adolescents and socially excluded ones. In these senses, we operate in India (Anantapur), with Special Olympics and SOS Children's Villages. In Anantapur we were lucky to work with Vicente Ferrer and build a school for 150 children, with three tennis courts, Rafa visited last October.
Can you explain where the 'kilometer zero' was for this whole journey? What moved Rafa this involvement?
The base of all is that Rafa had the desires and the illusion to do it. It can be summarized with these words. 'I'm on top in what I do, I am going to contribute my bit, I am going to work for children and adolescents that barely have opportunities in the life, ones that have problems or simply do not have anything... they can end up with a way out, an opportunity'.
It's a concept that is spreading, no?
It's not fair that children have this kind of shortcoming by being born in certain circumstances. If those on top have the desire and implement the means to help, no doubt that these children will have more opportunities, better outputs and less gaps. Pau Gasol, Roger Federer and Rafa himself have agreed on this concept.
It's that, at the same time, it enlarge the picture and the possibilities to the public of such ideas ...
With people like , Pau, Roger and Rafa, no doubt that it will enlarge the compassion in everyone. It's nice to see two great tennis players such as Roger and Rafa absolutely united in favor of children. The image of these projects enhances and expands through the involvement, to all of them. In this case, otherwise spared.
The benefits of today's game in Zurich will be allocated entirely to the 'Roger Federer Foundation for Africa', right? Tomorrow, in Madrid, it's for Rafa's program ...
Roger has already been organizing the charity event in Switzerland for five years. It's special to see them so united: it's lucky. Rafa leaves today to Zurich and returned to Madrid tomorrow in the company of Roger. People have overturned in Zurich and Madrid. In the case of Madrid, we felt we really couldn't accommodate more than 12,000 people in Caja Magica. We needed more tables for the the gala dinner of the Palais de Cibeles. In short, anyone can make contributions through the front row and through the website of the Foundation.
It sounds odd and even as a novelty that two players like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, locked in a historic sporting rivalry, maintain such a friendship
The rivalry between Rafa and Roger remains on the court, it doesn't pass to the matches. I see it as an example of poise and education by both parties that should be normal, normal for everyone. The message they both want to give is education and respect for all. That was how we wanted to educate Rafa. If sport and education can not go together, there will not be a clear picture, then everything will be worse.
What objectives did Rafael Nadal's parents have when they were before forming a son with trace of superclass?
Neither his father nor I we had the aim to create a footballer or a tennis player. It would have been a mistake from the educational standpoint. The children should enjoy studying and playing. You cannot set objectives. Some want to see their children as future cracks (greats). We never really considered this. If it happened good. If not...
And the young Rafa promised...
Ha, ha. 'Study for not to get suspended' he said. It is true that he did not get suspended, but he loved going to training. When he was 12 when his father and I told him to decide what I wanted. He chose tennis. He has done what he wanted and did it because he enjoyed it.
Did Rafa's evolution surprise you?
Nothing is predictable, but sometimes, from his first title at Roland Garros in 2005, he reacted surprisingly calmly with many difficult situations he faces. It was for the concentration. He remembers everything. We always try to convey an atmosphere of calm, education, and naturalness. It is not that complicated.
Total naturalness. At home, we do not speak to Rafa about tennis. It's enough was he has to deal with out there. Then, he has his hobbies and his same old friends. He plays football matches and golf with the same same people, as always: all of this makes me happy.
Finally, you see Rafa going with rake (the metal thing for clay courts) to smooth the courts at Roland Garros, he has never thrown or broken a racket ...
He had not been educated. The first day that he would have done that, he would have been removed from the court.
In what moment have you enjoyed or suffered more with you son? Was in that first title of Wimbledon, the famous final of 2008 against Federer?
All of those have been special moments. If I see Rafa suffering I suffer. If he enjoys it I enjoy it. Like when my daughter Maribel works. First and foremost they are my children. And Rafa is my son. period.
INTERVIEW On the couch with Olga Viza
Today it’s the turn of... Ana Maria Parera
This is ... Ana Maria Parera (Manacor, Mallorca; "doesn’t matter what year"). After meeting her, you understand a little more why Rafa is the way he is. Determined, extraordinarily kind, passionate about the task at hand and these days it’s one meeting after another. Occasionally she checks her watch. It is the first gift from her son. She always wears it.
Full Name: Ana Maria Parera Femenias
Present: President of the Rafa Nadal Foundation
Future: Expanding the Foundation's activities
AT HOME, RAFA IS NOT NUMBER ONE
She speaks in a soft Mallorcan accent. During the conversation, she often lowers her voice as if to prevent her words to be recorded. Her activities are discreet and she doesn't hide that she's uncomfortable with the media; but now Ana Maria, mother of Rafa Nadal steps forward to bring us together on the next Wednesday to a Nadal-Federer match which has been organized by the Foundation her son has created and she chairs.
Q: You have spoken out very few times throughout all these years.
Ana: I only wanted to work with the Foundation, where we have a fantastic team, but now I need to take responsibility. All my life I've been quite a discreet person, I only limited myself to attending my son's matches and nothing else. I systematically refused many things and I didn’t want to enter any of his worlds. It’s enough that he has to do it! If now I have to be in the spotlight it’s due to the particular circumstances, a project that is well worth it, because putting myself before my son is something I have never done.
Q: For charity or not, to the fans a Nadal-Federer match is the best match possible. And to you?
Ana: It will be the most special tennis match to me because it's the first public event the Foundation has organized. I would say that the result is less important. At first we didn't intend it to be of such magnitude but the response has been impressive. We have Caja Magica packed.
Q:8, 000 tickets sold within a few hours.
Ana:We also have a virtual front row for those who want to make a donation, big or small. Via [Foundation website]. Also I’d like to inform you that afterwards the court itself will be sold out. It will be chopped in 35,000 pieces. Each will be signed by Rafa and encased in perspex.
Q:Was it hard to convince Federer?
Ana: Not at all, not at all! It’s a dual event. First we go to Zurich and then he comes here. Federer has the Foundation for a much longer time that works in Africa and does a great job.
Ana: We formed it three years ago, but we didn’t do anything until we completely clarified everything. We could not afford to start any old how. A Foundation must be very clear ... We work on three fronts. With Special Olympics, where 250 children and youths with intellectual disabilities can practice tennis continuously. We are also preparing them for national and international championships. Furthermore, with this entity we are beginning to work with Children's Villages, we’re building or improving sports facilities for socially excluded children.
Q: And the third objective is the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.
Ana: We are supporting them because, in my opinion, Vicente Ferrer was a trail blazer as a person and as an educator. If you could see how those children live! India functions through castes (social classes) that do not interrelate, and as Ana told me, the wife of Vicente Ferrer, sport is the only thing that can bring them together.
We have built a school in Anantapur which has 200 students at the moment and three clay tennis courts. We do not aspire to make tennis players out of them, that's unthinkable. However, the school provides a complete education. We also provide them with all the sport equipment. You should see them in big shoes , excited while playing ... I was there for four days and I was crying, but I swear to you that I will soon return to Anantapur. I want to stay there for at least 15 days.
Q: You were there with Rafa; how did he experience that different reality?
Ana: He wondered about that while leaving one of the villages and he told me: "It’s impossible that the children who have so little are so happy while we and all the people around us have problems." People like my son, who worked hard and have become privileged, they should at least give a grain of sand! Everyone should do that.
Q: The life of privilege has other risks. You have been a watchful mother?
Ana: It is very difficult to fight against this world, but I believe that we have succeeded because at home he always saw absolute normality in all aspects. I have never required anything of my son, never! I'll give you examples.
When he had to play the juniors at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, he simply didn’t do it. And he didn’t because I told him: "Listen,your studies come first." He replied: "Mum, but this is very important!" I explained to him that I did not believe he had to leave the final exams to go to these places because you never know whether that will be your future. That’s how it is. I have seen big misfortunes in this world with parents who want their children to achieve what they themselves failed to achieve, and on top of that, they put pressure on them.
Q: That is to say, he never needed to get off a pedestal.
Ana: Never! You would think I'm telling you this because people will read it, but no. I've never had to tell Rafel: "Son, put your feet on the ground."
Q: In Rafa we admire his tennis and we applaud his character.
Ana: I was very clear that normality was the key. We have had great luck with Toni, who has instructed him in tennis, and we have talked a lot with him about his upbringing. That’s right, without playing down a single bit of importance of anyone, those who have brought up Rafel were his parents. We have done it in a very natural way. There’s no need to talk about it, it’s enough to observe.
Q: There isn't a mother who doesn’t like talking about her son. You can’t deny that you are envied by everyone.
Ana: I don't like it. Many times I'm told: "How lucky you are, you should be so proud ..." I tell them I'm lucky to have two children who are good people, who have not gotten into trouble and moreover, Rafel has done very well in what he does. Look, in my house we don’t speak a lot about tennis because I believe that my son needs to be calm when he comes home. We talk about other things.
Q: So, at home he's not number one.
Ana: He’s not number one nor anything like it! When he’s at home I send him to supermarket or to throw out trash. There’s no other way around here! And I can’t make him do more because he is very messy.
Q: In other words if we see his room ...
Ana: After I went through it or if I didn’t go through it? [laughs]. He is tidy only when it comes to his trophies. He has a room next to his bedroom where he keeps them. What he has in his bedroom [lowers her voice] are many stuffed animals. He likes them very much and, after winning the U.S. Open, a friend gave him an enormous giraffe . When I saw it, I thought: "I'll kill you!“. He keeps it there, with all the trophies.
Q: When did you realize that your son was something special?
Ana: You wouldn’t believe me, but I never thought my son was very good. I saw that he was ahead of others, winning everything, but I'd be lying if I told you I had considered he would come this far. When he was 12 years old we told him that his studies come first and he is to choose between tennis and soccer, to take up whichever he believed made him happier. Obviously he was better at playing tennis , but neither his father nor I suggested anything.
Q: He chose and the life has changed for everyone. What was it like, this parallel journey? You were working...
Ana: I had perfumeries, but I ’m also a music teacher. I’m a pianist by profession [again lowers her voice], but I'm playing so badly ... I'm better as a teacher. My life had a different rhythm, it was channeled differently. I had my family and my children. I still have them, but the girl is at the university and Rafel comes and goes.
Q: Neither of the two inherited your passion for music?
Ana: No. They are both thoroughbred athletes. The girl is 19 years old and studies at INEF [Instituto Nacional d’Educacion Fisica = National Institute of Physical Education]. She likes all sports. It was clear since she was little, and she wasn't influenced by her brother, although they adore each other. I don’t recall a single quarrel between them and I know that’s not normal. You know [almost whispers] that they are rabid Real Madrid fans. When Real play, he may be in Australia and she in Barcelona, they are calling each other or chatting to talk about the match. It’s something incredible.
Q: How do you feel listening from the box when your son dedicates his victory to you?
Ana: Very emotional. I cry, although I control myself. But look, after his injuries, when I'm watching a match, I see from a distance whether or not he has problems, and when he does, I want the match to end. I can ’t watch him suffer, it’s too much for me.
Once I was in the box and I heard "Come on, make one last effort. " I turned and said, "One last effort? Can you not see that he's knackered? Stop that!" When he wins a big one it’s impressive because at home I see how much he works, how much he struggles. From the outside you only see the spectacle and, make no mistake, this world is very hard, it’s full of obstacles.
Q: You also play tennis. Any match with Rafa?
Ana: No, he would floor me. [laughs]
Q: President of his Foundation. For Rafa it must be curious to see you these days?
Ana: I think he’s satisfied I'm in charge of all this, although he does tease me: "Mum, to speak in public you have to set some standards, you have to say things clearly, not get confused. " I tell him: "Hey, as if you don’t get confused many times." [smiles]
Q: Let me ask you about that tic which he has each time he prepares to serve and which we all know about...
Ana: Tell me about it! You don’t know how many pairs of underwear people have given him believing that the ones he has do not fit well. Including a person who sent me a letter saying we should shop for larger sizes and mailing that to me with four pairs enclosed [between laughs]. It's a tic and the more nervous he is... He had it all his life. [lowers her voice] I think that he has a butt a bit bigger than he should. [laughs]
Q: And, as he once said here, fear of darkness.
Ana: Let me tell you ... Now he’is at home with Lopez [Marc Lopez], working through the pre-season like each year, and they both are afraid. I left them there. He told me: "Don’t worry. This will be a disaster, but don’t worry. " The day before yesterday he called me at midnight: "Mum, we have a problem. There’s a power failure and I'm scared to death. " I had to tell him in which drawer the batteries for flashlights were.
Q: Christmas is coming. Have you already decided what to get him? It can’t be easy.
Ana: As far as material things go, I can't give him anything. Not because he has expensive whims, he’s not a spendthrift. He only needs video games for his travels. Over the years I tried to give him books, courses of English to improve it and nothing happens, they are left unopened. But yes, I have decided... It’s a surprise!