Rafael Nadal and Peng Shuai named among top 100 most influential people

Rafael Nadal training
Rafael Nadal

Grand Slam King Rafael Nadal and China’s Peng Shuai have been named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022.

Nadal won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year, but had established himself as an icon of the game long before.

Another serial winner, American football star Tom Brady, penned a tribute to Rafa.

“From the moment he stepped onto the court as a young player, Rafael Nadal had an unrivaled charisma,” wrote Brady.

“He has the mental and physical toughness to do what all great athletes do: play their best in the biggest moments.

“He elevates his emotional state to a place where he can be insanely focused on the smallest thing to create an edge over his opponent, willing himself to victory.

“It has paid off. When he won the 2022 Australian Open, Rafa earned his 21st Grand Slam singles title—the most of any male tennis player in history.

“I admire athletes who push themselves to the limit, and I’m absolutely inspired every time Rafa takes the court.

“There’s something to be learned from watching his determination, his strategy, everything that it takes for him to never take any moment for granted.

“He’s forever going to be remembered as one of the very best athletes in all of sports.”

The bravery of Peng Shuai in speaking out against her abuse at the hands of powerful men in China, inspired others to take up the torch for women’s rights in the country.

Peng Shuai
Peng Shuai

Activist Lü Pin heralded Peng’s earth-shattering revelation while warning that the former tennis star may still be in peril.

“With one lengthy post on Chinese social media site Weibo, tennis star Peng Shuai set off a chain reaction of events that profoundly changed global sports. In the post, published in November of last year, she accused former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sex and maintaining an extramarital relationship with her.

“Not long after, Peng disappeared from public view. Her re-emergence in staged settings provided the final justification for the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics and led to the Women’s Tennis Association canceling its events in China. Her name remains censored on the Chinese internet.

“Peng undoubtedly was aware from the start of the dangers inherent in speaking out. In the now deleted post, she described her actions as a moth to a flame, an egg to a stone, and a self-­destruction. Her account has catapulted an unprecedented defense of women’s rights against authoritarian power. Her subsequent denial of her original claims suggests that she has not yet regained full autonomy—and may in fact be experiencing unspeakable cruelty.”