In tennis as in most sports, major upsets by their very nature tend to be memorable. Unless they occur in the championship game, however, upsets rarely outshine the eventual championship play.

This year’s Wimbledon may be one of those exceptions. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer failed to make the quarterfinals. Perhaps even more shocking on the women’s side, most of the top 10 seeds were out by the second round – No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 7 Angelique Kerbert, No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Maria Kirilenko.

Wimbledon’s top-seeded woman and defending champion Serena Williams made it a little farther, but was ousted by eventual Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki of Germany.  Lisicki ended Williams’ 34-match winning streak – a feat that had made her a heavy favorite coming off her Grand Slam win at the French Open.

So does this loss put Serena Williams out of a top seed for the final Grand Slam of the season? I wrote in this blog two years ago that Serena Williams was set to make a comeback after a year of surgeries and a life-threatening condition.  Barring injuries, Williams will likely be back in contention to win when the world’s best re-convene in late August on the DecoTurf hard court surface of the US Open in New York City.

Forget about the off-the-court controversy over some comments she made in print and on TV in the lead-up to Wimbledon — at age 31, Serena is playing some of the best tennis in the world. No small amount of credit should be given to her off-the-court training regimen.

We talk a lot about Core Training in Body Shots and there’s a reason why – a strong core is one of the key attributes that world-class athletes need to compete and to stave off major injury in sports (flexibility is another). Earlier this year, Serena told Self magazine about her role in creating the Core Power workout for Nike Training Club. “Everything I do on court begins with strength from the core, so it’s the perfect foundation for my training as a tennis player.”

Much of what Serena does is nothing that can’t be accomplished at home with a stability ball and resistance bands.

Consider the reverse sit up. Start by lying with your chest on the stability ball, hands and feet on the floor.  Put your hands behind your neck and lift your head and shoulders off the ball as much as possible using your core. Return to the start position and repeat for maybe 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps.

The ball also can be used in a Pilates-type exercise. Lay on your back with the ball between your feet. Lift the ball by squeezing it with your feet until you can grab it with hands (try to keep your legs straight). Take the ball with your hands and place it over your head, all the while keeping your back flat on the ground. Then do the reverse – put the ball back between your feet and lower it to the ground, again with your back staying flat on the ground. By the third set of 8 to 10 reps you should be feeling a nice burn in the abdominals.


With the stability band, Serena does a couple of simple exercises. Get on your hands and knees and place the band behind your heel. Stretch your leg behind you to straighten it as much as you can. Slowly return to the start position. Do this with each leg again, 3 reps of 8 to 10.

Another simple stability band exercise is the lateral step. Stand up and place the band under your feet about shoulder-width apart. Step to the side, tightening your core as you stretch the band. Then step back into start position. Since you want to sets stepping both right and left, maybe start out by doing one set of 12 to 15 for each direction. Eventually you want to work up to doing 2 sets for each or maybe 3 sets of 8-10 for each.

Look up a couple of other simple exercises you can do for your core using the stability ball and bands and you will have a complete core workout that’s used by the world’s best. You’ll find you have better posture, improved on-the-court performance and an always nice benefit – a flatter tummy.

In an upcoming article, we’ll talk a little about the hard-court surface of the U.S. Open, which is probably what most of us play on regularly, and the need to have the right foot wear and support to stay competitive through the grueling pace of a tennis tournament.

Keep up the training.


Dr. Annette “Doctor Z Md” Zaharoff heads the Non-Surgical Center of Texas, focusing on non-surgical alternatives to relieve pain and repair injuries. A former professional tennis player who competed in the WTC circuit, Dr. Zaharoff remains actively involved with the US Tennis Association. Learn more about her at