Rafael Nadal called it an “emotional moment” to be stood alongside Roger Federer and other former Wimbledon champions at Sunday’s special centenary celebration on Centre Court. Wimbledon celebrated 100 years since introducing Centre Court as the tournament’s main stage on Sunday.
Special guests were brought out onto Centre Court before play started on middle Sunday with past champions such as Pat Cash, Billie Jean King and Chrissie Evert among those being brought out to a huge ovation. Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, similarly got a standing ovation from the packed crowd.
It was Federer though who, coming out last as the man with eight Wimbledon titles to his name, got the biggest cheer of the day. Nadal was seen smiling throughout as he stood next to Petra Kvitova and Stefan Edberg in his Wimbledon tracksuit.
The Spaniard is of course still competing in this year’s tournament and Sunday was a day off for the 22-time major champion.
He was getting prepared for his fourth-round clash with Botic van de Zandschulp for a place in the quarter-finals. While the Dutchman threatened a comeback at times, Nadal had just enough to see out the match in three sets.
Nadal was delighted to continue his run but also spoke of the “emotional moment” of standing on Centre Court as part of the centenary celebrations. “In the Grand Slams, we have one day off in between matches,” Nadal said.
“I have been already playing these kind of tournaments for a while so I manage to play and practice with the highest intensity, but days are long and there is time for different things. And yesterday was a very brilliant thing and share a court with these great legends of our sport.
“It was a very emotional moment and thanks to Wimbledon for that opportunity. The Centre Court 100 years is something very special and for me, just to be a part of these legends, has been very unforgettable so I’m happy for that.”
Nadal will now be taking part in his eighth Wimbledon quarter-final with Taylor Fritz standing in his way of a place in the semis. The pair have only met twice previously, but Fritz won the most recent encounter at Indian Wells earlier this year.