The August 2009 issue of Tennis Magazine’s Sarah Thurmond tries to bust the Rafa shoe myth.
Rumor has it Rafael Nadal wears sneakers too small for his feet. He’s denied it, but that hasn’t stopped fans from spreading the quirky factoid through cybersapce.
Since 2007, the rumor has appeared in online forums. Last summer the buzz peaked when several fans commented on Tennis Warehouse’s message board that they heard John McEnroe say Nadal plays in shoes that are one and a half sizes smaller than what he should actually wear. Skeptics wondered if Mac was mixing up U.K. and U.S. sizes. Others chose to believe it was another of the No. 1’s idiosyncrasies, and offered theories. “He wears them like soccer players… for a better feel of the ground,” a forum-user wrote.
On more than one occasion, fans have sought the truth from Nadal. Two years ago, in a London Times online Q&A session during Wimbledon, a fan asked if he wears tighty Nikes. Nadal’s response was no, that he wears his “normal” shoe size. Another fan confronted Rafa in a Times Q&A during last year’s U.S. Open. This time the 6-foot-1 Nadal gave his shoe size as a 10, and added, “I have small feet compared to other tennis players.”
So what’s the deal? Nadal’s manager confirmed that his client wears a European size 44, and a Nike spokesperson said he wears a U.S. size 10. (A U.S. 10 converts to a European 44 in Nike shoes.) There is one more piece of evidence that supports the small feet claim. An article, published in a Mallorcan newspaper in 2005 about the making of Nadal’s figure for Madrid’s wax museum, says the sculptor measured Rafa’s foot. She found it to be a European size 44.
On that note, let’s do as one poster proposed, and “put this silly rumor to rest.”