They say you never get over your first love, and tennis superstar Rafael Nadal and wife Mery “Xisca” Perelló may be living proof. Having met in their hometown of Manacor in Mallorca, they began dating when he was just 19 years old, and she 17. Yet, it would be years before they ever acknowledged their relationship publicly.
“Even if my family asks me about Rafael, I prefer not to say much,” Perelló explained in Nadal’s 2011 memoir, Rafa: My Story. She continued: “The fact is that I just don’t feel comfortable talking about these things, even in private. It’s what works for me, and what works for Rafael and me as a couple. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Since then, the twosome has largely stuck to that M.O., speaking out about their relationship only to confirm their 2019 nuptials, and, more recently, the impending arrival of their first child, which Nadal acknowledged at a press conference in June.
Read on for all of their under-the-radar moments over the years.
- The couple is rumored to have been introduced by Nadal’s sister.
- They’re extremely protective of their relationship.
- They tied the knot in Mallorca in October 2019.
- They’re expecting their first child together.
2005: Coupling Up
Having both grown up in Mallorca, it's rumored that Nadal and Perelló were originally introduced by his sister, Maria Isabel Nadal. Although we don't know the exact date they met, it was revealed in Nadal’s 2011 memoir, Rafa: My Story, that he and Perelló had begun their courtship six years prior, in 2005.
November 17, 2011: Red Carpet Debut
The duo stepped out for their first red carpet event together in November 2011 for an ATP World Tour Finals Gala, aptly titled, “A Night With the Stars.”
2011: Carving Their Own Path
Perelló explained why Nadal frequently traveled without her in his 2011 memoir, Rafa: My Story. “Travelling together everywhere, even if I could, would not be good either for him or for me,” the business graduate said. “He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around waiting on his needs all day wears me out. It would asphyxiate me.”
She continued to imagine what it might be like to follow her partner to his competitions. “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,” she said.
The activist also shared her aversion to the world of celebrity, saying, “It’s not a world I want to be part of, nor do I think Rafa would have chosen to be with a woman who looked for that in life."
April 2012: Joining Forces
According to People, Perello joined the Rafa Nadal Foundation, which aims to help educate children and promote development through sports, as an employee in April 2012. She is currently listed as the organization’s Director General on Linkedin.
June 11, 2012: A Warm Embrace
The Spanish athlete received a sweet hug from Perelló after winning the French Open for the third year in a row; this time against Novak Djokovic.
June 26, 2013: In Tune
The pair took in a little culture in 2013, when they hit up a Julio Iglesias concert as part of the Jardins de Pedralbes Festival in Barcelona, Spain.
October 23, 2015: Adventuring Duo
Perelló made a rare appearance on Nadal’s Instagram in 2015, when the couple traveled to Basel, Switzerland, together.
May 2018: From Rome, With Love
The couple became engaged while vacationing in Rome, though they kept the happy news private for eight long months. Nadal told 60 Minutes in 2021 that the decision to pop the question to his longtime love was kind of a no-brainer. “When you've been together for 15 years, we don’t need to talk much,” he said. “Just, well, we have to do it, finally.” “Yes or no!” Perelló joked.
January 30, 2019: Spilling the Beans
News of the pro tennis player and the Director General’s engagement went public in January 2019, with ¡HOLA! reporting that the pair was set to wed in Mallorca come fall 2019.
October 2019: Tying the Knot
The couple had a wedding straight out of a storybook in October 2019, when they tied the knot at La Fortazleza, a 17th century Spanish castle in Mallorca. Insider touted the property as one of the most expensive in Spain, and Hello! reports that it has also served as the filming location for the BBC's The Night Manager.
There, the pair reportedly welcomed 350 of the nearest and dearest friends and family members to celebrate in their big day, including former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I.
Perelló wore not one, but two stunning wedding looks for the occasion, both of which were designed by Rosa Clara. “I feel so fortunate to the designer of Mery's wedding dress for her wedding with Rafa Nadal,” the Barcelona designer said on Instagram. “The connection between me and Mery was immediate."
Her first creation centered on Art Deco-inspired French lace with a jeweled neckline and long sleeves, flower motifs and microbeading. It also had a silk crepe ballgown skirt with a detachable train. Sketches released by Clara also showed a second beaded halterneck design with an open back.
May 16, 2021: Big Plans
Nadal shared with 60 Minutes in 2021 that he and Perelló planned to break ground a new family home in Mallorca, across the bay from his parents, Sebastián Nadal and Ana María Parera. He also admitted he thought that he and his wife would have been parents themselves at this point in time.
December 31, 2019: A Happy Ending
To usher in the new year, Nadal shared his most precious memory from 2019 with his followers on New Year’s Eve: his wedding. “Now to say goodbye to all of you I leave you this last great memory of 2019 and I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2020!” he captioned a shot of himself grinning widely as he held his bride’s hand.
April 2020: Babies on the Brain
Nadar opened up about his feelings on children in a 2020 interview, telling the outlet that he and Perello would likely conceive sooner rather than later. “I love children and I would like to form part of a family, and at the age we are now we’re not going to wait five years,” he shared.
October 11, 2020: A Celebratory Smooch
The couple engaged in a rare moment of PDA at the 2020 French Open following Nadal’s historical victory against Serbia’s Novak Djokovi. The win was a significant one, making the tennis player the first Open-era competitor to win four Grand Slam singles titles without losing a single set, as well as the first player to win six major titles since turning 30 years old. It also put him at a tie with his longtime rival, Roger Federer, for 20 Grand Slam men’s single title wins.
July 13, 2021: Summer Loving
The couple enjoyed a day in the great outdoors in Mallorca in July 2021. “Cruising around... summer evenings that are spectacular in Mallorca,” Nadal captioned a selfie of himself and his wife.
June 17, 2022: Growing Family
The athlete revealed at a press conference on June 17, 2022, that he and Perelló would soon welcome a new member into their family. “If everything goes well, I’m going to be a father,” he said, adding that the admission was not an invitation into his personal affairs. “I’m not used to talking about my private life,” he said. “We live more peacefully with a lower profile. I don’t expect that my life will change much with it."