Pope Francis received in audience -- in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of Popes --, a delegation of the “Royal Barcelona Tennis Club” Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Francis’ Tennis “Class” to Spanish Tennis Players

Pope’s speech to the delegation of the «Royal Tennis Club Barcelona»

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(ZENIT News / Ciudad del Vaticano, 29.01.2024).- On Monday morning, January 29, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of Popes –, a delegation of the “Royal Barcelona Tennis Club,” on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of its existence. ”I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of your foundation as Sports Club. I’m happy to be able to point out once again the opportunities that sport offers for the growth of every person and of society. And today we have to congratulate the Italians, because they won in Australia yesterday, so we also congratulate them,” the Pontiff began by saying.


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On the individual dimension of tennis, the Holy Father said: “Tennis in particular, not being a team sport, but individual or in pairs, poses an interesting facet for our reflection. It would seem that the confrontation of the players has to do, especially, with the desire to be above the opponent. Yet, glancing at your club’s history one can appreciate that, in reality, since its English origin, it’s an expression of the founders’ openness to the good that could come from outside and to a dialogue with other cultures, which enabled them to give life to new realities.”

Inserting the above reflection in the context of the anniversary of the Club he was facing,  the Pope added: “This is as valid a lesson for our days as it was 125 years ago. Neither in tennis nor in life can we always win, but it will be an enriching contest if, playing politely and in keeping with the rules, we learn that it’s not a contest but a dialogue that involves our effort and allows us to improve ourselves. To conceive sports a bit, not only as contest but also as dialogue. A dialogue ensues, in the case of tennis, which many times becomes artistic.”


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The Pontiff continued: “In the playing field as in existence, sometimes we feel alone, at other times supported by the one playing with us in the game of life. However, even when we play as ‘individuals,’ we are always in the presence of the Lord who teaches us the meaning of respect, understanding and the need of constant communication with the other.”

In conclusion, the Pope said: “allow me to say one last thing to you. You have become figures of international tennis, and it’s a great challenge, but when we work with children, who dream about an excellent sports future, the demands of the training cannot be above their integral growth. There is nothing more important than [their] human and spiritual  development. And sport must help this development, not be the center, but aid this [development]. So I ask you: take care of the children; take care of those that can benefit from the values of sport in complex social ambits and also of those that might even triumph in high sports competition. May they not cease to be children! Thank you.”


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