Wimbledon '96: Appelmans top of Belgian tree

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The Independent Online
Sabine Appelmans was knocked out in the fourth round of the women's competition yesterday but her defeat to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario certainly was not due to a lack of fitness.

Appelmans, 24, the Belgian No 1, is the latest sportswoman to produce a fitness video, which is selling fast in the Netherlands and her home country.

"I was honoured to be asked to do it," Appelmans revealed. "I enjoyed it, the main motivation certainly wasn't money. We filmed the whole one- hour video in a day - it's a mixture of dance and fitness and was fun to make."

The 5ft 6in left-hander has achieved almost cult status in Belgium, and despite ranking just 28 in the world, her fame puts her alongside Belgium's best sportsmen and women.

Appelmans, Belgium's Sports Personality of the Year in 1991, has surpassed all her expectations at Wimbledon, after losing in the first round at her last three attempts.

She looked set for perhaps her greatest victory yesterday, leading 2- 0 in the second set after taking the first against Sanchez Vicario, only to lose 11 straight games, although she still picked up pounds 22,700 as a fourth- round loser. Her fitness certainly came to the fore after a punishing three sets win over the 11th seed, Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, in round three.

After taking the first set 7-5, she lost the second 6-3 and only made it through after winning the deciding set an incredible 12-10.

"The fitness work I put in obviously helps my tennis," she says. "But probably most my co-ordination. Filming it was also a nice change from tennis."