The historic Wimbledon tournament has seen famous winners renowned for their athleticism, from the agility of Becker, to the power of the Williams’ sisters and the speed of players such as Nadal. As the 2015 tournament gets underway we take a look at what impact running has on such stars. 

Professional singles tennis is a sport involving speed and stamina, played throughout a long season and with no team mates to rely on if having an off day. This means entering tournaments in peak physical condition is essential and the best approach to this is different for everyone.

Former world number one, Caroline Wozniacki, 24, recently praised the effect running the New York Marathon had on her tennis. A self-confessed running fan, Wozniacki finished in an impressive 3 hours 26 minutes and stated that it not only had a positive effect on her tennis physically, but mentally as well – “It’s cleared my head, but also it’s helped me physically, and I feel stronger on court. So it’s been a great thing for me. It’s a nice challenge.”

Any marathon runner who has 'hit the wall' or put in the miles of hard training, will know of this positive mental effect Wozniacki is talking about. Knowing that you can complete such a distance can only help when playing crucial points whilst running on empty in the latter stages of a tournament!

Image from The TCS New York City Marathon website -

Andy Murray, though he complimented her on the impressive feat, would disagree with her approach to such training.  He stated that he would love to do a marathon but not until after his tennis career as it would take “a lot of training and hard work”, implying he believes marathon training may interfere with his tennis physically. This is likely to be the case for many, before you even take possible injuries into account.

But, it should not be forgotten what a crucial role running has had to Murray’s success.

The Scot's transformation from talented, skinny teenager to a Wimbledon champion has come down largely to his intense training regime, of which he views his interval sessions a vital part. His ex-fitness trainer, Jez Green, would spend hours making him run 400m intervals and believes he could now run the distance in 53 seconds. It is no coincidence that as he got faster, he rose up the ranks.

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut may disagree with Murray. At Wimbledon 2010 they battled each other in the longest ever professional tennis match, lasting 11 hours and 5 minutes, where the stamina gained in marathon training would no doubt help! Murray could argue this was over a period of three days of short sprints, that interval training would be hugely beneficial to also.

It is interesting to note how much participation in one sport can help another, and tennis is certainly no exception. Novak Djokovic could have pursued a professional career in skiing, and years spent on the Kopaonik Mountain as a youngster no doubt contributed to the core strength and balance of the current men’s number one. “When he’s sliding on the court, this is like skiing,” Goran Djokovic, his father recently stated, “People say, ‘How is it possible?’ Because of that. It’s simple.”

Running is the same. Mo Farah was always exceptionally talented, winning youth events with less training than many other competitors, but he didn’t quite seem to be living up to his potential in his early twenties. When he added cross training and an improved strength and conditioning programme he began to break world records. His natural progression as he matured as a runner may have helped but it’s hard not to think that this training change was a contributing factor.

So, as we go out for our summer runs over the coming weeks, fear not if it’s too hot. Take tips from Mo and these tennis stars, perhaps a bit of cross training such as a cool swim can be beneficial as well! 

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