Rafa Nadal took part today in a charity event organised by the Felix Mantilla Foundation in Madrid. “A Backhand to the Sun” saw Rafa and other elite players, including Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, Felix Mantilla, Caroline Wozniaki, and Ana Ivanovic come together on the court for the day.
The spectators, whose 15-euro entrance fee contributed to the cause, livened up the event even more when actors Miguel Ángel Silvestre (‘El Duque’) and Mario Casas appeared, and who also took part in the mini-games organised by the Foundation.
Spaniard Felix Mantilla, winner of ten ATP tournaments, heads the Foundation to raise awareness of skin cancer, a disease he suffered from in 2008 and which forced him to retire from tennis. “I was lucky and now I want to do something to help”, he says.
“Your values in particular change, things that you once thought were serious, and worried about, now you realise that they weren´t. Your scale of values suddenly changes. ‘Why should I worry about those things?' you say to yourself, and that is what strikes you most", said Mantilla in an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC.
“I was very lucky because the cancer was diagnosed early and I can thank God that I’m here now”, he said. According to doctors, if it had been six months later, the cancer would have been fatal. The former tennis player managed to avoid having radiotherapy and chemotherapy –just undergoing surgery- and still has regular checks today.
"Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and is the most harmful one to humans. I think that when it happens to you, it makes you a lot more aware of the disease."
"You never think it will happen to you", says the Spaniard who now devotes much of his time to raising awareness of the disease and educating parents and children about the risks of practicing sports in the sun without any protection. "The cancer has given me another perspective. The Foundation enables you to do something good for society and to teach people to enjoy the sun safely; and that is uplifting", he adds.
In reference to the cause, the world No.1, Manacor-born player, Rafa Nadal, who will take part in "a very special tournament" in Madrid, said "the important thing is not about the funds we can raise here today, but to make people more aware about the need to protect themselves against sun damage, and I’m the first person to take note."
"At these events to help people in need, all of us –to whom life has been very good– should try to do our bit," said the Spanish tennis player who is recognised for his support of numerous charity events.