CANARY ISLANDS, Spain - Spanish player Carla Suárez Navarro has a new morning routine these days, and it’s all about making sure that no one in her community is going hungry.
The former World No.6 is spending the WTA tour’s extended break in her hometown in Spain - one of the countries hit the hardest by the outbreak of coronavirus, with more than 217,000 people sickened and 25,000 casualties. Suarez Navarro herself is in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, where she’s been helping to raise awareness for a growing need: with millions of Spaniards unable to work amid the lockdowns, more families are now struggling to put food on the table.
“We’re living difficult times where many families are severely affected after losing their jobs and their income,” Suárez Navarro told wtatennis.com. “Many people can’t buy enough food, and that was the main reason to collaborate with the food bank in my hometown Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.”
Seeing an opportunity to make a difference, Suárez Navarro now spends her mornings at the local food bank’s warehouse, putting in a four-hour shift starting at 9:00 a.m.
“Basically, I help organizing the orders, putting the items in the correct place as we are asked to do, taking food out of the fridges, cleaning the warehouse to leave everything on point for the next day,” she explained.
Suárez Navarro wears a face mask and gloves to keep safe while inside the food bank, and said the work gives her a greater appreciation for the work of Spain’s frontline and essential workers.
“Being aware that what you do is helping people in need is very rewarding,” she said. “There are many human stories beyond the figures we see each day. People who are struggling a lot and whose future is very uncertain.
“If we have the chance to alleviate some pain, we must make an effort. I feel good with myself knowing that, instead of just staying home, I can go out and make a little difference for people in need.”
After giving back to her community in the morning, Suárez Navarro’s routine looks like anyone else’s during lockdown: she has some lunch, and then hangs out with mom to watch some Netflix - she recommends The Shooter - before doing a bit of fitness at home, “mainly spinning.”
“I use my time to read or play chess before having dinner,” she added. “During the weekends I take a breath, and enjoy my time cooking some food and drawing mandalas.”
During the 2019 off-season, Suárez Navarro announced her plans to retire at the end of this year. She had put together a goodbye tour of all her favorite WTA tournaments - including Doha, where she won her career’s biggest title. But the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting tennis event cancellations has left everything up in the air.
Now, Suárez Navarro stays in shape with the hope of having a proper retirement send-off on-court at a tennis tournament. She hopes that it’s this year, but still leaves open the possibility of playing into 2021 - including perhaps at her home tournament, the Mutua Madrid Open, as she recently told El Pais.
“As of today I keep my decision to retire at the end of the year, as long as we can play some tennis this season,” she explained to wtatennis.com.
“If we cannot be back on court in 2020, I could think about retiring next season because I would like to say goodbye on a tennis court.”