© Ella Ling

Flushing Meadows

New York diary: All tennis players should drink beer


Like athletes in all sports, tennis players are generally very careful with what they eat, looking after themselves very well off the court. Likewise, few drink alcohol – Andy Murray is virtually tee-total and many others follow his example. The French players will have a glass of wine on the evening after a match, but that’s a cultural thing as much as anything. But Andrea Hlavackova stuck a blow for all right-minded, alcohol-liking tennis players around the world when she revealed that she “likes drinking beer”.

It’s not listed in her WTA Tour profile but the reason for her tastes actually is. The world No 82’s father, Jan, is described as a “master brewer” and two generations before him were general directors of the brewery. Hlavackova is from the town of Plzen (or Pilsen) and is known for the world famous Pilsner beer. Refreshingly, Hlavackova says she likes it, drinks it and thinks all players should do so, too. You might not find too many nutritionists saying so, but the Czech upset Maria Kirilenko in round three and takes on Serena Williams in the last 16 on Monday.

Kim Clijsters bowed out of professional tennis when she and Bob Bryan were beaten in the second round of the mixed doubles, ending a fantastic career in which she won four grand slam titles, three of them after coming back from a two-year retirement during which she got married and had her first child. The WTA Tour have been inviting people to send the Belgian their goodbye wishes and players have been falling over each other to offer their own best wishes to without doubt the most popular player on Tour.

Clijsters was generous with her time, with everyone and anyone, and I’d be amazed if you could find anyone who would say a bad word about her. Belgian teenager Kimmer Coppejans, the top seed in the junior event in New York, said on Sunday that she is exactly the same in private as in public, and that her efforts had inspired a generation in Belgium to believe that they can do the same thing, while still being nice at the same time. She retires, this time for good, with everyone’s best wishes.