Am I the only one who has the impression that tennis players are completely obsessed with food? That’s the only conclusion I could come to after a perusal of a random set of tweets by some of the current players on both the ATP and WTA tour. They tweet about what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve never seen more food-focused people than tennis pros. What gives? Why all the emphasis on food?
Before giving my opinion, let me share a few of the random tweets I ran across in preparing this entry:
From Janko Tipsarevic on January 10th: “Sake rocks!” Complete with picture. Now I can really call him Tipsy for short.
From Dusan Vemic, on September 24th: Midnight in Zurich.. I'm bored outta my mind.. If nothing, just the thought of home cooked food tomorrow is keeping me alive!!! Beograd… Also from Vemic on January 10th: Best soup in the world! (paradajz čorba sa valjušcima) Specialty from North Serbia( Vojvodina). Pic included. Again, Vemic obsesses: And never enough of filet mignon! Hehe IDEMOOOOO!!!!! Like we say: "MLJAC, MLJAC" ;) Complete with pic.
From Ross Hutchins, January 8th: Fridge is full..should have taken into account how far away supermarket was before i bought food for the week!! The walk tested the lungs. And again on the 10th: Walked in the door full up from a sensational meal at Nobu..the rock shrimp is possibly the best dish served in restaurants! Pro-evo time now.
And it’s not just the journeymen who obsess about food. The top players seem to be just as enthralled:
From Gael Monfils, January 5th: Sushiiii tonighttt.
From Robin Soderling, January 8th: Me, Jenni, er Pantera, Brad & Horia preparing for tomorrows finals in Brisbane by eating japanese food. Complete with pic. Is there a relationship between Japanese food and tennis success? Hmm...
Verdasco deserves a special mention. I have found no end of amusement from his tweet pics with his entourage before, during, and after meals during the US Open. Verdasco has been known to tweet his exact location at the point at which he is digesting his meals. He even shares photos of himself shopping for food. And he does all of this in both Spanish and English. What a talented guy.
Just in case you think that I’m picking on the men, here are a few foodie tweet samples from the WTA:
From Victoria Azarenka, January 6th: Just got back from dinner! We went to a thai restaurant. Surprising menu but great quality. What r u guys up to? No pic included. Too bad, I adore Thai food.
Not be outdone, here’s Venus Williams on December 9th: Wow Serena made pineapple with black pepper salmon with soy brussels sprouts! Amazing! That's just the appetizer! And then the following day:Well all that food Serena made is gone and in hungry again. Back to the drawing board!
When not eating, players like Dinara Safina (January 7th) spend time watching the Food Channel: watching on TV Jamie Oliver cooking!!he is amazing!!!!!i wish i could cook like him!!!! just by watching my stomach is making noice!!! :-)
All kidding aside, I think that there are many reasons why tennis players come across as food-obsessed. First, for the pros, nutrition is a critical issue in the pursuit of tennis success. Tennis pros expend so much energy on the tennis court, that the timing, quantity and quality of their meals become seriously important issues.
Second, for many tennis players, one of the pleasures of traveling the world is the opportunity to get introduced to cuisines that may not exist in their countries of origin. Certainly it helps that with some added dollars in their pockets, many can now afford to eat at the best restaurants. I don’t think it’s boastful of Hutchins to mention that he ate at Nobu. Who wouldn’t if they could afford it?
I also think that there’s something celebratory about this kind of eating. It’s the perfect reward for hard work. But eating may also be a natural response to the continuous deprivation and sacrifices that professional players have to endure. Given the loneliness of the tour, food may become a constant and comforting companion for many. For Vemic, the 34 year old doubles journeyman with not a title to his name, returning for some home-cooked food may also be an emotional consolation prize.