Katie Swan opens up on mental health struggles – and Andy Murray’s lockdown advice

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Katie Swan now practises her mental game along with her forehands after revealing her off-court struggles a year ago.

The Fed Cup star shared her feelings in a searingly honest post on social media after losing in the third round of French Open qualifying.

“Every match I lost I didn’t just feel like a worse tennis player, but also less of a person,” she admitted then.

But Swan, now 21, had felt empowered to open up after already starting talking to a London-based psychologist.

And the British No.6, speaking from her home in Kansas, said the work is ongoing even without Roland Garros this May.

“Speaking to a psychologist impacted on me really quickly in a short space of time,” she said. “I was feeling so much better and I thought it was a good thing to share with people during Mental Health Awareness Month because it was a positive story, not as a negative story. I am sure that a lot of people would have no idea that I was someone who maybe struggled for confidence.

“It is something I am still working on even a year later and I know I will be throughout my career.

“Your mental game is definitely as important, if not more important, than the other things I work on.

“I do mental sessions every week now with Elena Sosa to work on not always positive self thoughts but a lot of different things. It is something I have to be conscious of. I have to practise it.

“When I am practising, I am not just working on my tennis, I am working on positive self talk and being nicer to myself. I am definitely improving from last year.

“And these last two months have been a really big test for me because it is the first time I have been practising this long without having my coach (Esteban Carrill or Julien Picot) with me. It has been really good for me to have a bit of time by myself.”

Team-mates can offer support in other sports but Swan, who is based in the USA because her father Richard works in the oil industry, added: “Tennis can be quite lonely when you are travelling a lot.

“There is only one winner every week. Everyone apart from one person will lose every week. It is really important to have that support system around you of people who want you to do well and win.

“For me that has been my parents, brother (Luke), coaches and the LTA have been amazing. The main thing is finding someone to talk to if you are feeling a bit down. It doesn’t have to be a psychologist – anyone you trust is better than keeping it inside. I am sure there will be people during this lockdown and quarantine who will be doubting things.”

Through her agency 77 Sports Management, world No.254 Swan can also call upon the advice of her mentor Andy Murray.

“I messaged him at the start of lockdown quarantine and he was giving me some advice on the best way to stay positive throughout all of this and motivated,” she said.

On tour, Swan was already seeking to have “more fun” off court by socialising and sight-seeing.

During the coronavirus crisis, she has helped the charity work of her “amazing” mum Nicki while continuing to train.

“Tennis is the sport that I love and I chose to do this,” she said. “I am very grateful for the opportunities I have had and I learned that even more over that time how much I love the sport and I needed to go back to just remembering that.”

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