He's baaaaaaaaaaack! A jam-packed Court Philippe-Chatrier welcomed 14-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal back to his beloved tournament on Monday as he arrived at the clay-court Grand Slam for his first practice of the tournament.

The event's social media channels chronicled every step of the Spaniard's return to Stade Roland Garros, from his arrival in an official vehicle and his check-in with tournament staff, to his first steps out onto the main court, where he was greeted by his adoring public.

Fans, nearly 6,000 per an AP report, could be seen in the video clip giving Nadal a standing ovation and shouting, "Rafa!" The former world No. 1 acknowledge them with a smile and several waves.

Clad in a white, Nike top and black shorts, as well as a white Nike cap worn backwards, Nadal hit the court with coach Carlos Moya and two hitting partners, and he struck his first forehands on Paris' terre battue since he lifted the trophy for a 14th time two years ago.


Following an injury-plagued 18-month period, the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion, who will turn 38 years old in two weeks, is expected to suit up in Paris for the 19th and final time this year, despite doubts about his form and fitness in what he has hinted is his final competitive season.

Nadal did not play in 2023 after the Australian Open due to a hip injury, and was sidelined for three more months this year as a result of another muscle problem. Still far from the peak of his powers, he nonetheless made a return on his favorite surface, and posted a 5-3 combined record in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

But after losing to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome on May 11, Nadal offered the public a glimpse at the mindset that was guiding him as he turned his attention to Paris.


"If I have to say what's my feeling and if my mind is closer one way or the other way, I going to say [I'll] be in Roland Garros and try my best," Nadal said. "Physically I have some issues, but not probably yet enough to say not playing in the most important event of my tennis career.

"Let's see what's going on, how I feel myself mentally tomorrow, after tomorrow, and in one week. If I feel ready, I going to try to be there and fight for the things that I have been fighting the last 15 years, if now seems impossible."

Main-draw action at Roland Garros begins on May 26.