Madrid - The city of Madrid declared world number one Rafael Nadal as its adopted son on Monday in honour of his trophy-laden tennis career.
"Today is a very special day for me" said Nadal, who wore a grey suit and blue tie, at a ceremony at Madrid city hall which voted unanimously to give him the honour last year.
Declaring someone an adopted son or daughter is the highest award which Madrid city hall can award.
"I believe in respect for my opponents, humility, discipline, hard work and enthusiasm.
"Those are some of the values I believe and that is how I understand not only sports but life as well," said Nadal.
Madrid mayor Ana Botella heaped praise on Nadal, who was born on the Balearic Islands and who is in the Spanish capital to defend his Madrid Masters title, calling him "generous, warm and authentic".
"You have the admiration and permanent and sincere affection of the entire city," she added.
Nadal, who began playing tennis at age four coached by his uncle Toni Nadal, has been champion in 13 Grand Slam tournaments.
He won the French Open eight times, Wimbledon twice, the US Open twice and one Australian Open.
Previous recipients of the distinction include Spain's King Juan Carlos and Peruvian author and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.