During a second-round match on Thursday, Nadal was returning a serve from his opponent, Argentina’s Federico Delbonis, when the shot struck a ball girl standing on the side of the court, according to CNN. Footage of the incident shows the ball hitting the young girl on the side of the head, as the crowd audibly gasps in shock.
Nadal and Delbonis went over to check on the girl, named Annita, and she and Nadal shared a sweet moment as the Spanish athlete gave her a kiss on the cheek and patted her head, CNN reported. According to the outlet, he also gave her his headband as a souvenir after the match.
“For her, it probably was not a good moment. I was so scared for her, honestly,” Nadal, 33, said in an interview after he won the match. “The ball was quick and straight on her. She’s a super brave girl.”
Nadal also met up with Annita after the match, sharing a selfie of the two on Twitter.
“Had the chance to meet her and her family today,” the athlete wrote in the tweet. “So happy she is well after the scariest moment I’ve had on a tennis court. Annita is a brave girl!”
At the Australian Open tournament, Nadal will next face Pablo Carreño Busta on Friday.
Had the chance to meet her and her family today. So happy she is well after the scariest moment I’ve had on a tennis court. Annita is a brave girl! 👧😘👌 pic.twitter.com/FDZGermA44— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) January 24, 2020
Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic were among those who competed at Melbourne Park’s Rod Laver Arena for an exhibition match to raise money for the wildfires fund. Volunteer firefighters were even invited onto the court to play against the athletes.
The Rally for Relief raised $3.5 million, not including additional pledges from some athletes and Tennis Australia, the organization that put on the rally.