Monday’s round of tennis at Wimbledon saw dramatic turns: British favourite Laura Robson was defeated by Kaia Kanepi and Sabine Lisicki won against world number one Serena Williams to progress as the overall favourite.
One of the deciding factors in the fortunes of these two players may well have been their choice of accommodation for the tournament. Lisicki, who is staying in a rented apartment, enthused that being able to cook and have her whole team stay with her made for a better atmosphere and a more comfortable experience. It’s undeniable that comfort is paramount to these athletes if they are to perform at the top of their game. Just one week before, Laura Robson complained that she had been forced to give up playing the saxophone as no hotel could accommodate it, emphasising the lonely grind of a one-roomed hotel existence on her ATP World Tour experience.
Athletes have very carefully monitored diets and will often not conform to the standard three meals a day. Instead, they need to eat meals produced for their nutritional performance at key times and around their busy schedules. It is unlikely that your average hotel restaurant will be able to accommodate this. With their own kitchen in a serviced apartment athletes are able to prepare and store food with ease, ensuring they are fuelled to perform.
There is also the question of space. Most international sports people come with an entourage of support from coaches to physiotherapists. Trying to fit all these people around a bed within the four walls of a hotel room for a pre-match briefing is far from practical. In this position athletes may turn to bars and restaurants for space; a less than ideal situation as the athlete wants to prepare in the comfort of their own space before a game.
Space doesn’t just have to be physical. Post-performance most athletes will want the privacy to relax, unwind and prepare for the next round instead of being hounded by their fans and the media in the lobbies, restaurants and corridors of hotels. An apartment offers a level of privacy which hotels can’t, leaving them free to relax however they like – be it lounging on the sofa watching TV while eating their freshly prepared, favourite meal or even playing the sax.
It’s the comforts in life that count and as Monday’s tennis proved – they may be the difference between winning and losing.