“You Never Give Up”: Golfing Legend Hails Rafael Nadal for Laureus Award

Published 05/09/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 6, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his third round match against Australia’s Alexei Popyrin REUTERS/Juan Medina

Golfing legend Gary Player has sent a personalized video message for Rafael Nadal congratulating him on winning the prestigious Laureus Sportsman of the Year award for 2021.


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Along with Nadal, Japanese tennis star and reigning Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka won the World Sportswoman of the Year award this year.

Gary Player calls Rafael Nadal a real fighter


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In the message, which was shared by Laureus Sport on its official Twitter page, Player, who is also a member of the Laureus Academy, pays a glowing tribute to the 13-time French Open champion, calling him a real fighter who never gives up.

Starting off with a hearty “compadre” (Spanish for buddy), the golfing great says, “Congratulations on being Sportsman of El Mundo (the world). You are a real toro (fighter), you never give up.”

He added that Nadal’s signature fighting qualities, which have seen him script many memorable moments on the tennis court, reminds him of himself and Spanish golfing stalwart Seve Ballesteros, who passed 10 years ago on this day.

“I like to think that Seve and I were like you in golf and you and Seve have been two of the greatest ambassadors of sports around the world and also Spain,” Player says, adding he feels “very proud” of his achievements.

The legend goes on to reveal that he met Nadal only once in his life, and that was the Laureus Sports awards gala.

Gary Player wishes Nadal many more Grand Slam titles

Recalling his experience of catching up with the 13-time French Open champion in the clip, Player says, “I tell everybody you’re the most humble, wonderful gentleman that I had met in sports.”

He adds, cheekily, that while he loves him a lot, his wife loves him more. “She says in the next world, she’s going to marry you. Not too good for me,” Player says.

Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021, Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea

The legend says that though Nadal already has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, the “whole world” wants to see him win many more.


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“We as sportsmen and sportswomen really appreciate it,” the former golfer said of Nadal’s achievements.


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The award couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Spaniard as he suffered a quarter-final exit at the Madrid Open and could do with some motivation ahead of Roland-Garros.


Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.