It was a pleasant surprise for the kids during the unique graduation ceremony at Rafael Nadal’s academy as two tennis greats sent them heartfelt messages from afar. With a scant attendance, the event began with a minute’s silence in remembrance of the COVID-19 victims.
It was a rare ceremony as the maximum people stood at 80, with no family and friends in tow. All absentees attended the event on a live stream arranged for them.
Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova pitched in with their online message from wherever they were. It was a great surprise and a pleasant one for the kids to hear from the living legends of the game.
Nadal greeted his students at the start of his address at the graduation event. “First of all, many congratulations everyone. I think it is a very, very special day for all of you. A great achievement after very difficult circumstances. I think everybody here in the Academy is very, very proud of all of you,” said Nadal.
The 19-times Grand Slam winner Rafa acknowledged that it is a difficult time for all, but this crisis will also teach everyone to be tough, especially the young kids. “I hope these lessons will help you to become better like human persons and to be ready for the challenges that in the future for sure will be there for all of you in any way you decide,” he added.
For the young tennis learners, the virtual speeches by Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova that followed Nadal’s lecture was a bonus.
Roger’s message for the budding talents was laden with innate wisdom and motivation. “For those of you who go on to play professional tennis, you know what it takes – a lot of perseverance, hard work, and never forget your fun, because I think that’s what’s most important, that’s what separates Rafa and myself, that we never lost the passion for what we’re doing every single day.”
Maria Sharapova was also very gracious in her message to the small kids nurtured at Nadal’s academy. “Hello everyone, this is Maria and I just want to congratulate you on graduating at Rafa Nadal’s Academy this season. I can only imagine that the last few weeks have been incredibly challenging – being away from your family and friends,” said Maria in her speech via live streaming.
Image courtesy: Daily Express