Grass is the sport's original surface. But with so many more hard-court and clay-court tournaments than grass-court events, modern athletes have to prepare their bodies for distinct physical challenges when competing on a lawn. Former Wimbledon champions Serena Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza and Maria Sharapova, as well as former finalist Eugenie Bouchard, provide some insights.
Mark Hodgkinson
June 12, 2018

To succeed on grass, you need dynamic movement.

"You have to get used to the running and stopping," Williams has said. "So I have to get used to getting back in the mind frame of being more dynamic on the court." 

Bend your knees.

"My legs are so long, and I have to really go down and bend my knees," Muguruza has said, while Sharapova advises: "The bounce is much lower, so you have to stay a little lower." 

Maria Sharapova in action at Wimbledon in 2015 (Getty)

With a lower, faster bounce on grass, you're going to need strong glutes and quads.

"Grass is such a different surface to hard or clay, and I think you need to get low so that you're prepared for your opponent's slices and for the balls that slide and shoot through," according to Bouchard.

"The toughest transition in professional tennis is when you go from clay to grass, as they're opposite surfaces, so different, and Roland Garros and Wimbledon are the two Slams which are closest together, so that's tough. The glutes and quads are the muscles you need most to stay low, so you’ll need to strengthen those and keep them active."

While the points tend to be shorter than on hard and clay courts, don't underestimate the "physicality" of playing on grass.

"I think a lot of people underestimate the physicality of the grass, the way it has changed over the years and how physical it has become," notes Sharapova. "In the beginning, that adjustment is always a bit tricky on the body."

Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon in 2016 (Getty)

Pay attention to your footwork - you can't slide any more.

"It's certainly an adjustment when you come from clay," Sharapova has said. "The first two days you're like, 'Wait, I can't really slide that much.' So you have to take a few more steps, but then you kind of get used to it.

"But the first few days are always so much fun. It's such a different balance, a fast game. I feel like coming from the clay you learn so much about the point and the development of the rally. Then you get on grass and, obviously, on a fast grass court, you're not playing rallies longer than five shots. If you are, you're probably doing something wrong." 

Practice on grass as much as you can before playing your first match of the season on the surface.

"Every hour you spend on grass practising, it really helps you, because it's such a different surface," Muguruza has said. 

Have a positive attitude when you transition to grass.

"At the beginning, I didn't like grass," Muguruza has admitted. "For sure, I suffered to play and to handle it. It took me a while actually to calm down and to say to myself, 'Hey, it's grass, you have to adapt to the surface'.

"Once I reached my first Wimbledon final [in 2015], everything changed for me because I thought, 'Stop complaining - your game suits this surface.' Since that moment, I like grass and I look at it in a positive way. That makes a big difference, seeing it that way." 

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This is an editorial. Views expressed do not represent those of WTA Sports Sciences.