Rafael Nadal is one of the most celebrated figures in tennis. He’s won 17 Grand Slam singles and is a highly publicised icon in the sport. His girlfriend, Maria Francisca Perello, also known as Xisca, is much lesser known and likes to keep it that way.
Perello is not on social media and is rarely photographed with Nadal outside of sporting events. In a rare interview with The Telegraph in 2011, she recounts a story of her declining to go to a sponsorship dinner for fear of the publicity. She also goes on to talk about her choice to live a private lifestyle with her celebrity boyfriend.
She remembers a time when they were in Paris and he had to go to a dinner hosted by one of his sponsors. “He asked me if I wanted to go, but I chose not to,” she says. “I stayed in our hotel. When Rafael got back he said, ‘Thank God you didn’t come’. The place had been swarming with photographers. For me to have gone would have meant stepping into that celebrity world. 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.
“Even if my family asks me about Rafael,” she adds, “I prefer not to say much. 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.”
According to the Daily Mail, the Spanish couple grew up together in Mallorca, Spain, and started dating in 2005. They’ve been together for over 13 years so clearly there’s something to the anti-limelight approach to dating a celebrity.
Perello prefers it that way and often chooses not to travel with Nadal to his matches. In the same interview with The Telegraph, she said Nadal needs his space when competing, and she felt anxious and “asphyxiated” having to follow him around all day.
At the time of the interview, Perello was working at an insurance company in Palma, Mallorca and her work schedule prevented her from touring with Nadal. Since then, in 2016, she was named the Projects Director of the Rafael Nadal Foundation and now has a bit more flexibility to travel. Most recently, she cheered on Nadal to a win in the 2018 French Open.
Supporting her long-time boyfriend at Tennis matches is nice and all, but Perello and her preference for privacy seems better suited for the yacht life.
Nadal has a yacht called “Beethoven”, named after his grandfather’s nickname who was a director of an orchestra. The tennis player and Perello like to spend time on the yacht with friends and family to unwind. The yacht, the sea, and Perello’s company have been a winning formula for Nadal.