Del Potro greets Pope, gives him tennis racquet

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email

AP Photo

Juan Martin del Potro, seeded seventh at the Italian Open in Rome, made major news in taking in a Mass at the Vatican on Wednesday and also sharing a meet-and-greet with the recently elected leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis. Del Potro presented the Pope, a fellow Argentine, with one of the racquets he used to defeat Roger Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open, an axe hailing from that landmark achievement for South American tennis.

The Pope actually picked out del Potro in a crowd—probably not hard when the 24-year-old stands 6'6". Said del Potro, “There was a very nice moment when he was talking to all of us, all of his audience, and he turned his face, saw me, and raised his thumb. He recognized me and that surprised me. We talked for a few seconds. He told me that he knew I was playing at the tournament in Rome, he blessed me and wished me the best. I congratulated him and thanked him for the opportunity to talk to him.”

A few Delpo's friendly foes on the ATP World Tour were also in attendance at the Vatican, namely Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic, Carlos Berlocq, Horacio Zeballos, and Santiago Gonzalez. Rendezvousing with His Holiness, Pope Francis, didn't do del Potro's tennis much good, though, as he struggled through an ensuing 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) loss to Benoit Paire the next day.

Got a thought, a tip, or a point to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Email

More Stories

Tough Call: Who has more at stake at Roland Garros—Murray or Djokovic?

Both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have gotten off to rocky starts in 2017.

Tom Gullikson retires as full-time USTA player development coach

Gullikson has coached with the USTA since 1988. 

Not a Typo: Albert Ramos-Vinolas drops 21st consecutive doubles match

He's won just three sets over that span, and partnered with 16 different players.