Chris Evert, the Ice Queen who won 18 grand slam singles titles, gives her tips on how to deal with nerves.
Prepare before going on court
“I always had to be on my own for an hour before a match. I couldn’t socialise in the locker room. I used to listen to music, or lie down and visualise the matches, anything to get in the right frame of mind.”
Use the warm-up
“It used to take me two or three games to get into my groove. I was known for being a slow starter. So I made the most of the warm-up. I made sure that I ran around as much as possible, and got a sweat going, as then I could start properly.”
Think about what nerves do to your body
“Some people are paralysed by nerves. They start double-faulting, or their feet feel as though they are made of lead. It’s important for a player to be aware of what nerves do to you physically, as then you can know how to combat it. If you have a problem with double-faults, hit second serves on your first serve, so at least get the ball in.
“If your movement suffers when you’re nervous, try to stay on your toes at all times, and make exaggerated movements. Dealing with nerves came naturally to me – Martina Navratilova had the athletic genes, and I had the mental genes. I was able to stay calm.”