After two career-threatening knee injuries there is only one sort of climbing on Anne Keothavong’s mind.
Ten months ago the former British No.1 collided with a fence chasing down a ball in a doubles match in California.
As a result the willowy Londoner damaged ligaments in her left leg and was forced out of the game until February this year.
That setback came when she was ranked 54 in the world and just five years after she missed most of the 2004 season, having sustained the same injury on her other knee.
It not only cost her 100 places in the WTA placings but spots at the US and Australian Opens for which she would have qualified by right.
But the consequences weren’t only limited to her life on a tennis court, she has also had to give up her favourite pastime.
“I used to enjoy rock climbing and bouldering – climbing without ropes,” the 26-year-old said. “I dare not do that now, I don’t think my physios and fitness coaches would be very happy with me.
“But I used to love it. It was something different, another challenge away from tennis and while I could still do it I’ve chosen not to. Maybe I’ll go back to it after my tennis career.”
Which is not on the agenda until at least after the 2012 Olympic Games that take place in her home city and will have a special resonance for the Hackney-born right-hander.
Instead she will focus her efforts on the less perilous, but no less arduous, ascent back up the women’s rankings.
When she reached her peak at 48 in the world in February last year she became the first British female since Jo Durie in 1993 to clamber into the top 50.
She now resides outside the leading 150 but is in optimistic mood ahead of the grass court season.
Keothavong has very few points to protect for the rest of the year and if her start to 2010 is anything to go by, she should soon be hiking her way back towards the summit.
Having won just one of her four grass court matches last summer, a straight sets victory over Sofia Arvidsson at the AEGON Classic, an improvement is far from unobtainable. And in a surprising way she believes she is in a better frame of mind this year than she was last.
Spending a second spell out of the game has made her thankful just to be playing and when she rocks up in Edgbaston next week she will be free from pressure.
“The main thing now is that I am fit and healthy,” she said. “Everything else is a bonus. My only goal is to play for the rest of the year and if I do that things will progress automatically.
“Last year the loss to Safina in the French Open hit me hard and I look back now and think I didn’t handle it well. While it was not a terrible performance, I lost a lot of confidence.
“But when you have been away from the game you just appreciate the opportunities you have to play in big tournaments. I am really looking forward to playing on grass this year and, even though my results have not been great there, I always enjoy coming to Birmingham.”
The fact she has won five of her nine matches on clay confirms her return from injury has been a successful one.
“It’s gone pretty well since I have come back,” she said. “My knees are absolutely fine now. I have to be sensible about how I train and my schedule but it’s all manageable.
“At least having done it once before I knew exactly what coming back would entail and that probably helped me. You have to learn to walk again.”
* The AEGON Classic takes place at Edgbaston Priory tennis club, from June 7 -13. Details at the official website.