A WTA star needs stamina on the court - and off it as well. Ice baths offer fantastic recuperation as well as a huge amount of physical shock - here's what the top players have to say.
Mark Hodgkinson

Suffering and physical endurance are part of being an athlete on the WTA Tour. And, for a great number of players, the pain and hardship don't stop when they step off the court or out of the gym: the worst bit can come when they splash into an ice bath.

But players still go ahead and sit in the freezing water, with ice cubes bobbing on the surface, and with their teeth chattering, as they appreciate that an ice bath will help them to recover for their next match or training session. 

Freeze for freshness

A dip in the ice bath can do wonders for your muscles after a long match (and even after a short one, keeping you fresh for the next day). "Baths help relieve my tired muscles," Maria Sharapova has said, while Garbiñe Muguruza has observed: "You always do the ice bath - it's very important." 

Shock for seconds

If you can get through the first few seconds of being in the ice bath, you should be able to endure it for several minutes, which is long enough.

"An ice bath makes your muscles feel better, but the first few seconds in the freezing water often result in swear words," Daniela Hantuchova once told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It feels unbearable upon entering the water, but it's amazing how quickly you get used to it. It's not fun, but if you are only in there for seven to ten minutes, you will feel incredible afterwards. Instead of feeling stiff and sore in the evening, or when you wake up the next morning, you feel as though you had a nice rest the day before." 

Feel the fear

Some players find it "scary" when they first try having an ice bath, but they then make it part of their routine. "After heavy matches and sessions, I do ice baths for recovery. It's scary to start with, but it feels good afterwards," Ana Ivanovic, who is now retired, once told New York Magazine. 

Help in the heat

If you have been playing or training in the heat, an ice bath can help to bring down your core temperature.

"You should recover by having an ice bath - it won't feel great when you're in there, but it will do when you get out," said Jean-Pierre Bruyere, a chiropractor who has worked with Victoria Azarenka. "This is especially true if you have been playing somewhere hot as getting in the ice bath will help to lower your body temperature."

Willpower required

Some players need all their willpower to force themselves to fill a bath with ice cubes and then jump right in.

"Definitely I will do the ice bath, but I hate it," Svetlana Kuznetsova once remarked after playing in extreme heat. "Even though I'm from Russia, I hate cold weather and everything icy. I would rather be having a sauna."

Serena Williams also isn't a fan: "I only do ice baths in emergencies. I really don't want to do them. I absolutely hate them and try to avoid doing them at all costs." 

Icy path to triumph

But the route to success always involves some hardship along the way, and after winning a big title you can look back at what you went through - and that will include time spent in icy water.

"All these ice baths that I've done, that I hate so, so bad, and which have hurt me every day, when you win a tournament, you know that they were worth it," Azarenka has said.

"There was one day when I was like, 'No, I'm not going to do it today.' But I pushed myself and at this level those little things can make all the difference."