How Tennis champions serve up wellbeing
At just 23, Heather Watson is ranked the #1 female tennis player in the UK. Her list of achievements is phenomenal, she’s won world titles, was the 1st British female EVER to win in New York and the 2nd Brit to claim a junior title.
As she prepares for the most iconic British tournament of the year - the Wimbledon Championships, I’m asking her not about her playing style or next big win, but about her time off court because taking time out is more than manicures and private yoga classes, it’s about feeding the mind, finding inspiration and using it so we always perform our best.
Beckie Andrews: Your job naturally looks after your body. How do you look after your mind and stop the pre-match pressure building up?
Heather Watson: When I was younger, I put a lot of pressure on myself to win. I’d be incredibly disappointed if I didn’t and really let it bring me down. Sometimes I’d wake up in the morning and wouldn’t want to get up and play, but I’ve realised over the past couple of years that it’s not that simple, you learn from your mistakes and this makes you stronger and better - not just in tennis!
When I lose, I remember how I felt last time I won. This spurs me on for greater achievements. You can apply this to other areas of life too. It’s about remembering and focussing on the positives, not dwelling on negativity!
BA: It’s hard to imagine how you must feel before playing tennis in front of the world. How do you stay calm before you play?
HW: I love playing tennis in front of a big crowd, I do get nervous, but butterflies are part of the fun! I try to take my mind off what’s about to happen, you can’t think about it too much.
BA: And how do you keep your cool during the match?
HW: I remind myself to breathe. Taking a few deep breaths helps to steady nerves, and bring my mind back to a calm and central place. It’s important to get perspective too, I mean it’s always been my dream to be a world class tennis player but at the end of the day… it’s just a tennis match! Imagine if we obsessed over things we love about ourselves
BA: You travel all over the world! How do you wind down when you’re away from home?
HW: I’m really into photography and like snapping away whenever I’m in a beautiful part of the world. It’s important to have interests outside of tennis.
BA: Tell us about your perfect Sunday afternoon...
HW: Weekends off are a treat for me, I like to pack my days with other people’s company. I love getting everyone together for a BBQ and hopefully getting to cook something myself! I really enjoy cooking but rarely get the chance to actually do it. It’s amazing how laughing with your friends (plus a little bit of chocolate cake!) can instantly boost your happiness.
BA: It’s a real balancing act, juggling a successful career with friends and family. Do you have any tips for fitting it all in?
HW: Organise yourself. In the past, I relied too much on others for my training schedule or flight times, but when you take plans into your own care, it’s surprising how independent, professional and capable you feel.
BA: How do you deal with the disappointment of last minute injuries?
HW: I got Glandular Fever a few years ago and couldn’t understand why I was struggling to feel motivated or train. I was non-stop from a young age so it’s not surprising I thought I was suffering from extreme fatigue. Under doctor’s orders, I took time out from tennis and any kind of training. That was so difficult! I wanted to be competing and climbing the rankings. But, it was crucial for the healing process to rest and it gave me a greater appreciation for what I do. That realization fuelled me through those tough months.
BA: What 3 things help you feel good each day?
HW: Healthy food (porridge for breakfast always), laughing (Skyping my friends and family is my escape) and of course exercise! Every now and then I play basketball or cycle. It’s nice to mix it up a bit!
BA: When things are tough, what inspires you to push yourself that little bit further?
HW: My desire to accomplish my goals, not just for me but for my friends and family too. I want to do it for them, I want to make them proud. I’m also naturally competitive; I have a real drive to win at whatever I’m doing!
BA: Your life is more hectic than most women your age. Any advice for striking the right balance?
HW: I suppose I’m in a different position to most girls my age, but that’s not to say I don’t have to find the right balance. When I was ill, it was energy-sapping, it forced me to re-evaluate my approach to tennis and made me realise I’m only human! I realised how important it is to be in bed for 10pm and eat the right foods. You can only push your body and mind so far; and as a professional athlete I don’t take this for granted.
I also think everyone needs to cut themselves some slack. I recently shared a great quote with my fans, “Imagine if we obsessed over things we love about ourselves” - Everyone should remember this when having a down day!
Heather’s Neom Picks
1 - Feel Refreshed™ 3 Wick Candle – “For a natural energy boost in between matches”
2 - Tranquillity™ Bath & Shower Oil – "Winding down before bed"
3 - Essential Energy Boosting Kit " - Perfect for your travel bag"