Rafael Nadal, who won his thirteenth French Open at the weekend. | Julien de Rosa


The Spanish government has announced the award of the Gran Cruz de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo (the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit) to Rafael Nadal.

Government spokesperson María Jesús Montero said on Tuesday: "We are honoured to give this distinction to one of the world's finest athletes of all time. It is a pleasure to do so for a person with his values, who is a role model for the young and who makes us all better. The government makes this very well deserved recognition to someone in whom there is national pride."

Juan María Fernández Carnicer, advisor for the Royal Order, highlights Nadal's "extraordinary service to the world of sport and his undeniable merit". "He honours the name and reputation of Spain across the world. His career has been one of an especially exemplary nature."

The president of the Higher Sports Council, Irene Lozano, says that "few personalities arouse as much consensus as Rafael Nadal". "He is an incredible athlete and an exceptional person, as he has shown so many times. Spain loves Rafa, and this is another way of recognising him."

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