Rafael Nadal and Maria Francisca Perello attended the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Rafa Nadal Foundation held at the Italian Consulate on November 18, 2021 in Madrid, Spain
PHOTO: JOSE OLIVA/EUROPA PRESS VIA GETTY
Tennis legend Rafael Nadal might be one of the sport’s most decorated athletes, but despite the Grand Slam champion’s widespread recognition, little is known about his wife Mery “Xisxa” Perelló.
The couple dated for 14 years before tying the knot in October 2019, and have remained relatively quiet about their romance. In June 2022, Nadal confirmed during a press conference that he and Perelló are expecting their first child. The tennis star also explained to reporters why he tends to avoid talking about his personal life.
“I’m already exposed enough in my professional life,” he said. “My loved ones and I like to live with a low profile.”
On Oct. 8, 2022, Nadal and Perelló welcomed a baby boy into the world.
So, who is Rafael Nadal’s other half? From their Italian engagement to their little one on the way, here’s everything to know about Mery “Xisxa” Perelló and her relationship with Rafael Nadal.
She’s from Nadal’s hometown
Rafa Nadal and Maria Francisca ”Xisca’
Like her husband, Perelló is from Mallorca, the largest island of Spain’s Balearic Islands. According to her LinkedIn, she attended the University of the Balearic Islands from 2006 to 2010, obtaining an undergraduate degree in business management. Perelló later attended ESADE, a graduate school in Barcelona, for post-grad studies.
Nadal is an active member of the community in Mallorca. In 2018, photos surfaced of the tennis star cleaning up with local residents of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar after flash floods hit the city. The cousin of one of Nadal’s close friends was killed during the deadly floods, along with her young son.
“I really lived that tragedy, from very close,” Nadal told CNN at the time. “Was very sad for all the people that lost the materials, but especially, the lives that can’t come back.”
She got engaged to Nadal on vacation in Italy
After dating for 14 years, Perelló got engaged to Nadal on a romantic holiday in Rome, as Hola! Spain reported at the time.
After news of their engagement broke, several tabloids reported that the pair was set to marry in Mallorca in June 2019. However, Nadal’s spokesman denied the claims to PEOPLE, calling the reports “fake news.”
“Normally we don’t speak about Rafa’s private life, ever,” his rep said. “However this information is absolutely incorrect and fake news from non-credible sources.”
They tied the knot in October
Perelló married Nadal in October 2019 in their hometown of Mallorca. She wore a long-sleeved gown by Barcelona-based bridal designer Rosa Clara, which was featured on the designer’s social media accounts. The jeweled neckline and hand-embroidered fabric made for an elegant combination.
“The whole process was full of emotions between all of us,” Clara wrote on Instagram. “We just want to thank the whole family for trusting in us, you’re extraordinary.”
She went on to describe the dress as having a “ballgown-style skirt, made of silk crepe, featured a weightless detachable train.”
Nadal announced he and Perelló were expecting their first child in June 2022
“If all goes well, I’m going to be a father,” Nadal shared with reporters at a press conference in Mallorca.
“I don’t know what will change in my life because I don’t have experience, but I don’t think it will change my professional life,” he continued.
Perelló did not speak publicly about her pregnancy, which will make the couple first-time parents. The tennis champion previously opened up to Hello! about his desire to have children, saying, “Obviously, I have the intention of forming a family. I love children and I would like my children to do what they like.”
Nadal also discussed the possibility of raising kids while juggling his tennis career during an interview with The Sun.
“I would love to have children: boys, girls … I’m a person who loves kids and I’m a family guy. But also I tell you that the reality is, the years keep passing, I would like to start to do all of this when my sporting life determines it,” he told the outlet. “I think it’s also above all about looking after the kids. I don’t know if it [traveling] throughout the year and having children] is ideal.”
She and Nadal welcomed a baby boy
On Oct. 8, 2022, the couple welcomed their first child into the world. Perelló gave birth to a baby boy in Mallorca. The birth came just two weeks after Nadal’s emotional final match with longtime friend and rival Roger Federer.
She works for Nadal’s foundation
Rafa Nadal, his mother Ana Maria Parera, his wife Xisca Perello and Rafa Nadal Foundation director Eunate Gomez attend the 10th anniversary of Rafa Nadal Foundation at the Perez Llorca auditorium on November 17, 2021 in Madrid, Spain
Perelló has worked for the Rafa Nadal Foundation since April 2012. The business graduate originally started as a project manager before moving up to the CEO position in November 2019. She is also a secretary on the board of trustees.
The foundation is active in Spain and India to help children experience the “transformative power of sport and education,” according to their website. The charity was launched in 2008 by Nadal and his mother, Ana Maria Parera.
She only occasionally attends Nadal’s matches
Perelló has been photographed supporting her husband at several tennis matches around the world over the years. However, during an interview with The Telegraph in 2011, Perelló discussed why she often chooses to stay behind while Nadal travels for his tournaments.
“He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around and waiting on his needs all day tires me out,” she said. “It would asphyxiate me. And then he would have to be worrying about me … No. If I followed him everywhere, I think there’s a risk we might stop getting along.”
In 2020, she made her third appearance ever at the Australian Open, where Nadal won the men’s single title after a five-hour match that the athlete called “one of the most emotional matches of my tennis career.”
Most recently, she watched Nadal win an epic victory against Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in July 2022. Unfortunately, the tennis player was forced to withdraw from the rest of the tournament after struggling with an abdominal tear.
Before his injury, the tennis champion was attempting to secure his third win at Wimbledon and his 23rd Grand Slam title.