Visiting Rafa Nadal in Mallorca

Richard Branson with Rafael Nadal and friends in Mallorca
Branson family
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 10 May 2022

Enjoyed the great privilege of spending time with Rafa Nadal whilst I was in Mallorca recently. While we were visiting the beautiful Virgin Limited Edition resort Son Bunyola (more on that soon), Rafa was kind enough to ask us to visit his incredible tennis academy.

Sun Bunyola in the sun with trees and patio area
Virgin Limited Edition

The Rafa Nadal Tennis Academy is in his hometown of Manacor, and he has converted his training centre into a high-performance tennis academy that combines tennis and education to support the next generation of tennis players. If any of them go on to have 1/100th of the success Rafa has had in the sport, they will be very happy indeed.

He has created the academy partially for top talents making their way in the game, directed by Toni Nadal, Rafa has also made it accessible to local people to come and play and enjoy the wonderful facilities, from tennis to pickleball to Olympic-sized swimming pools and great restaurants.

Rafa was deep into preparations for the current Masters tournaments, building up to the French Open he has dominated for so long. But he was good enough to give us a few hours to sit and chat about what is going on in the world – and of course share some of his tennis wisdom. I’m still looking to improve!

We laughed reminiscing about the last time we shared a court, at the Necker Cup. Rafa had such a great sense of humour about the laid-back nature of our tournament. At one point our dog Sumo ran onto the court and interrupted his serve - that doesn't happen at Wimbledon!

Richard Branson playing tennis with Rafael Nadal at the Necker Cup Tournament
Necker Cup

I was in a charity match against Jimmy Buffett, who turned it into a doubles match and got world number one doubles player Mike Bryan as his partner. At the last minute, I roped in Rafa as my partner – and we scraped home for the victory. Jimmy still owes us a charity concert, which I will hold him to!