Tennis players just love their home cuisine

LONDON - Serena Williams has a passion for carrot cake. Maria Sharapova is a great fan of the chocolate fondant.

Daniela Hantuchova is a dab hand at salade nicoise while world No 1 Justine Henin loves her sole fillet en papillotte. Forget the image of pampered tennis players jet-setting from city to city scoffing gourmet food at five-star restaurants.

In fact, they love nothing better than rustling something up at home on the rare occasions when they are actually there.

The world's top women players have put together a book of their favourite recipes - Lovefood - so that, if all else fails, they could always try their hand at being a celebrity chef.

"Mother taught me everything I know," is a common theme.

"My mum is a great cook and I have learnt much from her," writes Italian Francesca Schiavone.

Serbia's Ana Ivanovic said: "I was taught to cook by my mum and my grandmother."

France's Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, always accused in the past of being prey to nerves in big matches, has found that cooking can be calming.

Showing off the merits of her cherry tomato soup, she writes: "Cooking is a good way to get your mind off sport. It's very therapeutic as well as being a lot of fun."

Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia agreed: "Cooking is a fantastic way to relax."

But being constantly on the international circuit can cramp your cooking.

Giving the recipe for her calamari fritti in the Whirlpool cookbook, Czech Nicole Vaidisova said: "I try to cook as often as I can but travelling so much means I don't always have enough time."

Elena Dementieva longs for her own fillet steak with caramelised onions and creme fraiche.

"With all the travel I end up eating in restaurants most of the time so it's great to cook something from scratch," she said.

But for Russian compatriot Maria Sharapova, who loves stir-fried Thai noodles, globe-trotting does have its attractions.

"One of the best things about travelling is being given the opportunity to try all the different cuisines of the countries I visit." - Reuters