The professional tennis season runs from late December to mid-November. If players drink no alcohol when the season is active, it leaves little over a month for them to enjoy a beer or glass of wine.
Having said that, most players continue their strict diet in the off-season.
Most of us are partial to drinking once in a while. But it can be challenging for professional tennis players who are always keeping an eye on their diet.
Some tennis players do drink alcohol. Almost all professional players who do drink will reduce or eliminate their intake when in competition. All players are different, and their alcohol usage will depend on many factors beyond just their profession.
In this article I will be discussing:
- Why tennis players choose not to drink alcohol
- If any professional players party
- Whether tennis players drink wine
- What tennis players do to relax
While most players will reduce their alcohol intake and stop partying, this isn’t the case for everyone. There have been some notable incidents of players getting in trouble after a night out.
I will be discussing some of these stories later. If you’re keen to hear about some top players misbehaving on nights out, keep reading!
Why Don’t Tennis Players Drink Alcohol?
Alcohol is a drug used for pleasure. But, unfortunately, while it may bring enjoyment to drink, it doesn’t benefit sports performance.
Drinking alcohol can have a significant effect on the performance of athletes.
If you have read some of my other articles, you will often hear me talk about the 1% rule in sports.
When I talk about the 1% rule, I refer to athletes looking at tiny margins (as small as 1%), which will give them an edge over their opponent.
By drinking just one glass of wine, it could reduce their performance by 1%. At elite levels of the sport, that 1% can make all the difference.
If there is a risk of harming their performance without any benefits, then there is no point in drinking.
Alcohol has many adverse effects on the human body and athletic performance. There are so many you could write a small book just listing them.
The biggest problem that comes from drinking alcohol for tennis players is the effect it has on reactions.
When you are playing tennis, there is not one moment in which you switch off. As soon as you have hit the shot, you immediately begin preparing for the next one.
If your reactions are slowed, it is going to be tougher preparing for the incoming ball.
Focus and hand-eye coordination are also proven to be affected negatively by alcohol.
Tennis courts measure 78 feet in length.
If you are under the influence of alcohol, it could impair your vision and focus on that distance.
It’s hard enough tracking the ball from a distance without alcohol reducing your focus and vision.
Nonetheless, each year, Wimbledon organizes a champions dinner.
There is usually champagne served with the meal, and most of the champions will allow themselves a glass or two.
A club I played in once organized a pizza and beer evening for the teams. After everyone had finished drinking, we began to play again with everyone at minimum tipsy.
In my case, I was drunk.
While it wasn’t impossible to play, and I was impressed by my ability to rally, it was much tougher than usual.
I also found it incredibly difficult to serve.
Put it this way, it didn’t motivate anyone to include alcohol as a part of their in-competition diet.
Do Any Tennis Pro Players Party?
Many players party on the sidelines of tournaments. Most will opt for no or very little alcohol.
There have been a few incidents of players getting themselves into trouble while out partying.
In 2010, the now British number 1, Dan Evans, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in a nightclub.
The alleged attack took place in March while he was in the middle of a tournament. He was only 19 at the time.
Another player to experience a bit of controversy on a night out was Australian Bernard Tomic.
While partying in a Gold Coast club in March 2018, some friends Tomic was partying with were accused of spiking drinks.
There are certainly many players who party regularly. We, of course, don’t know the details of these as uneventful parties don’t make headlines.
“World number 37 has two glasses of wine with friends in a Belgrade bar” won’t sell as well as “British tennis star accused of sexual assault while clubbing”.
Do Tennis Players Drink Wine?
Even though most players choose to abstain from alcohol in tournaments, some decide to drink in small amounts.
When I’ve been to Wimbledon before, I have seen some players having a glass of wine with their meal. These players are in the minority, though.
There is a big difference between having one glass of wine and necking shots through the night.
At the recreational level, especially in southern Europe, it is common to come across drinking and playing together.
In many large clubs in Spain, there will be a restaurant or bar attached.
In these clubs it’s normal for people to play a match and then retire to the bar for a glass of wine afterwards.
How Do Tennis Pros Relax?
All players have their own way of unwinding after a long match or tough training.
The flamboyant Australian crowd-pleaser Nick Kyrgios says he likes to play video games.
He has mentioned that he enjoys playing FIFA and Call of Duty. He also made headlines after his 4th round defeat at Wimbledon in 2016 to eventual champion Andy Murray.
Kyrgios was criticized for his match preparation and lack of effort. The main target of this criticism was his decision to spend the morning playing video games instead of getting ready for his match.
Another fan of gaming is Alexander Zverev.
The world number 5 at the time of writing is also a FIFA fan.
Unlike Kyrigios, he doesn’t spend hours on end in front of the PlayStation. Instead, he likes to play with a small group of friends.
Zverev also says sleep is a great way to switch off. He describes himself as a “long sleeper.”
Nadal has more expensive tastes when it comes to relaxing.
He is a big fan of boating. Nadal occasionally posts pictures of himself relaxing on his boat in the Mediterranean.
He enjoys snorkeling and fishing too.
Gael Monfils takes a more creative approach when it comes to relaxing. He likes to make music on his computer, experimenting with different beats.
Many players enjoy a drink here and there while still active on tour. Others wait until they are retired to really let loose.
The days of players getting hammered the night before a big match at the top level are in the past. Players are too strict with their diet these days.
Have you ever played tennis or another sport while under the influence of alcohol? How did you find the experience?
Perhaps you’ve seen someone else play drunk.