UnderwearCatching Up with Noted Underwear Model (and Tennis Player) Rafael Nadal
A giggly chat with a tennis legend and underwear connoisseur about form, function, and wedgies.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam tennis champion Rafael Nadal is having trouble remembering the word for what kind of underwear he wears.
Which is unexpected, on a few levels. Not only is Nadal a formidable second-language English speaker, but underwear is also an integral part of the 30-year-old Spaniard's biography—he's an international underwear spokesmodel twice over (for Armani and more recently for Tommy Hilfiger) and is arguably the most famous chronic underwear adjuster in history. But here we are: On a hot, rainy summer evening in New York, Nadal's hands are in a pizza-slice shape in his lap, and he's giggling sheepishly.
Still, it's clear he's a Guy Who Knows Underwear. So what underwear does a guy who knows underwear—with a job that requires the utmost comfort at all times—wear to work? We talked to Nadal about his undergarment preferences (both on court and off) and his ongoing war against wedgies.
So you've done some underwear campaigns—Armani and now Tommy Hilfiger. We're a menswear magazine, and we've got a healthy interest in underwear. So I'm gonna ask you some questions about your underwear.
What underwear do you wear on the court?
[Rafael Nadal makes a V-shape with his hands.] Ah…not the long ones. The short ones.
The tight ones, I'd imagine, since you're out running around.
Yeah. Well—comfortable ones! [laughs]
Your pants have gotten shorter over the years—you used to play in long knee-length pants; now you wear the shorter shorts. Have your underwear choices changed?
No, no. Well, I haven't been playing in the same underwear for years! But for the moment I'm pretty happy. I wear the Tommy Hilfiger ones [ahem, Nadal is currently a global brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger], and I'm very comfortable.
So the Tommy Hilfiger briefs. The stretchy ones. On court and off court?
You're pretty famous for adjusting your underwear between points when you play tennis.
Has that prompted any change in what you wear on court, underwear-wise?
Nope. Can't. I've been doing that since I was a kid, so [laughs] that's something that I cannot change.
It's just part of your routine now.
It's just something that's impossible for me to change. I can change many things, but this thing, no. [laughs]
Have you ever been approached by some brand that wanted to fix that for you? Like, "Look, Rafa, we can give you some underwear that won't give you a wedgie"?
Yes, but— [laughs] Well, the problem is never gonna be the underwear.