"I intended to defend my integrity" - When Rafael Nadal sued French minister who accused him of doping
Rafael Nadal is renowned for his good-natured and effervescent spirit on and off the court, but he does not hesitate to take the attack to the opposition when the situation demands it.
Nadal was the subject of scandalous allegations by Roselyne Bachelot, who claimed in 2016 that he had faked an injury to hide a positive dope test five years earlier. Nadal promptly sued the former French sports minister for slander.
While explaining why he chose to pursue legal options, the Spaniard stated in 2017 that he intended to defend his image, integrity, and the values he stood for.
"I intended not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career," he asserted.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the 2012 London Olympics citing a knee injury. He had been chosen to be the flag bearer for his country at the Games but he missed the opportunity, along with the rest of the season.
After a seven-month hiatus, Nadal made a comeback in February 2013. He finished as the runner-up at the Chile Open before registering title wins at Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, and Flushing Meadows.
Following Roselyne Bachelot's explosive claims during the course of a television interview in 2016, the tennis star decided to opt for the legal route while also writing to the ITF to make all his dope test results public.
The ITF stopped short of acceding to the specific request but declared that the former World No. 1 had never failed a dope test.
As promised, after winning the defamation case, Nadal donated the entire amount of money earned from the damages (€12,000) to a French charity.
"A part of my life left with him" - Rafael Nadal on what it felt like when Roger Federer retired
The two legends were seen weeping uncontrollably while also holding hands in what was a poignant moment that perfectly captured the bond that the two friends and rivals shared.
Over the course of an exhibition tour in Argentina, Nadal told reporters that it was an emotional moment as the man he admired, rivaled, and shared beautiful moments with was leaving the game for good.
"Someone I have admired, who I have rivaled and also I have shared many beautiful things on and off the court was leaving. In that sense, all those moments, those feelings you have before playing a final of a grand slam, of an important tournament, everything that was in the air before those matches. It was different from other matches," he said.
"You know you’re not going to live that again and a part of my life left with him [when he retired]. It was also the emotion of saying goodbye to someone who has been so important to our sport," he added.