Tennis Identity

10 minutes with Heather Watson.

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Earlier this fall I had a chance to chat with Heather Watson, one of the WTA’s rising stars. Heather is from the UK and is currently ranked #59 in women’s singles (and is Britain’s #1 female player). We sat down inside Paragon Sports in Manhattan after a competitive round of mini tennis hosted by Heather’s apparel sponsor New Balance.

Heather watson mini Tennis

TI: I saw you last night at the Taste of Tennis. Did you have fun?

Heather: Oh, yes, I did have a good time. It was delicious. And, yeah, I really enjoyed it, really enjoyed just wearing some casual clothes too.

TI: I want to ask you about what you wear on court and if you have a lot of input with New Balance? I know it’s a fairly new contract for you.

Heather: I started with New Balance at the beginning of this year. And, it was all kind of just go. I wasn’t really sure what the product was like at first. I’d never really worn it before.  But I feel like this year they’ve really kicked off as a product and just grown so big so quickly. Like I’m walking in the street and I see so many people wearing the shoes.

There are so many different designs and I absolutely love them.  I’m just so excited to be on board because with all my previous sponsors, I never had any input at all. I just given my clothes and had to wear them.

With New Balance they ask me what I like. They ask me my ideas. And I really, really enjoy giving my input and I find it exciting and fun. It’s just so exciting to see the planned designs and they just look amazing; I can’t wait to wear them.

TI:  So we’ll see your influence in what’s coming out for next year?

Heather: Yeah, absolutely.

TI: Are there styles that you prefer?

Heather:  Well, for training, for example, I love to wear leggings; that’s probably my favorite item of clothing. And with the tops, I change it up. For training I like to wear shirts with sleeves because for matches, I’m always wearing razor backs and sleeveless shirts. For practice I like to wear something loose and more comfortable. I also love trainers [sneakers]—I’m just such a trainer girl. I’ll even wear a dress with some trainers.

TI: Do you always match your nails with your clothes?

Heather:  (smiles) I try to actually.  That’s why I’ve done these nails—my bright yellow nails to go with all my new outfits for the U.S. Open. [The outfit above is what Heather wore at the US Open this year.]

TI:      So what you are wearing here for the mini tennis [below] is new training gear?

Heather Watson playing mini tennis in Paragon Sports

Heather : Yeah, it goes with my blue and luminous yellow US Open match gear.

New Balance tennis shoe

TI:     What do you like to do in your free time?

Heather: Well, I just got my own apartment in London. And, a second passion of mine is properties and interior design and all that. I’m always watching HG TV. I just love it. So I’m keeping myself busy with all of that now and furnishing my apartment and doing all of that stuff. And I’m enjoying it completely.

TI: And, what about fitness? What do you do? I know that pros at your level are doing at least 50/50 with their time and for some, more fitness than hitting? You?

Heather:  Yeah, pretty much. I’ll train usually twice a day and I’ll do fitness twice a day. So I’ll do—half the day will be in the gym, sort of weights and lifting. And in the afternoon would be cardio like running or on a bike.

I think—as the game is progressing, you need your fitness more and more.

TI: Has that changed dramatically just since you started playing?

Heather: Yeah, definitely. I’ve always been a player that’s been quite fit because of the way that I played. I retrieved a lot of balls and had to do a lot of running. Back then even if I was not 100 percent, I could get away with some matches. But now at the high level, no chance. You have to be fully healthy and fit. And if you’re not, it’s—you know, it’s hard enough winning matches when you are fit, let alone when you’re not.

TI:    So how  about, nutrition. What do you do to stay healthy? Do you avoid certain things?

Heather: Well, when I was younger —not including the past few years, I was literally able to eat whatever I wanted and it made no difference. But now if I eat a chocolate cake, I feel like I— you know, the next day I weigh 10 pounds more. So I’ve started having to make some changes and cut down on the sweet things.

I just eat a lot of fruit and veg[etables].  I think that’s really important just to be healthy. And, eating the right things to make sure you have energy.

A lot of the time I feel like being a tennis player, I have to eat when I don’t want to eat. And when I am hungry, I’m not supposed to be eating. It all just depends on when my match is or when practice is to make sure I have the right fuel in my body.

TI:  So you work with a nutritionist? Are you paleo, gluten free, vegetarian or anything restrictive like that?

Heather: Yeah, I do work with a nutritionist. And no, I love every food. I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like. Umm…. There’s probably one taste the I don’t like and that’s wasabi.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Heather!