Venus Williams On How She Keeps Her Mind, Body & Spirit Intact After A Rough Few Years
Venus Williams is headed to the third round of the U.S. Open this week, and considering all she’s been through lately, it’s truly something to celebrate.
Of course, one of the things that initially seemed like it was going to stall Williams was her Sjögren’s Syndrome diagnosis. The tennis ace has been honest about the ways the autoimmune disease has caused her a great deal of fatigue and discomfort. The uncertainty of how it would hurt her tennis career created a lot of worry for the 37-year-old. But she has since proven to everyone that she’s still got it, making it to the finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year alone.
So how has Williams been able to keep her mind, body and spirit together through all of the recent ups and downs? In an interview with Health.com, she said that she’s learned to pace herself during workouts, made mental rest a priority, and also made time to practice self-care.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a secret. I think I’ve paced myself in terms of training,” Williams said when speaking on keeping her body “fresh and young” with the magazine. “Of course, I train more because I’m a professional athlete. But with the amount of tournaments and the amount of training and also knowing how to push your body—and trust me, I’ve pushed my body a lot. But you have to know when to say when, too. And also, it’s very draining mentally to keep this level up, so I also like to take mental breaks. Those are just like some of the tips that have worked for me. I would love to keep playing even more.”
The star said that while she can’t really take a day off in the way that the rest of us do (“What is a day off?”), hitting around the tennis ball and spending time with family (and on the dance floor) helps her take those mental breaks she needs.
“I believe tennis is meditation,” she said. “You stand there in the zone and you’re hitting the same shots over and over, and over and over, so there is no better form of meditation that [sic] hitting serves, forehands, or backhands. But I like to dance. I spend a ton of my free time with my family, too, because I’m away a lot.”
And even with all her work on the tennis court, Williams does make a lot of time for the gym.
“I’m all about the gym life,” she said. “It’s super important to prevent injury, but also to be strong. I live for abs.”
Other must-haves for wellness for Williams include consuming a clean diet. That includes eating “as many green things as possible” and ditching protein for shakes and smoothies with lots of fruits and vegetables. She is also a proponent for massages and being good to herself by practicing self-love.
“Yeah, it’s not always easy to love yourself. There can be barriers, whether we built them ourselves or that we grew up with them—who knows,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the same amount of time that you spend not loving yourself, you could. So sometimes I think you have to simplify things in your head and make it make sense.”
As Williams said, it’s all about practicing discipline to be your best self. Oh, and did we mention a lot of sleep?
“You don’t want to just give away a match because you just couldn’t find a way to go to bed,” Williams said. “I try to get at least eight hours. At home, I can stay up a lot more. But sleeping is important. If you want to go out there and train and push yourself to the limit, you have to be well rested. That gives me more energy. So it’s definitely a disciplined life, being an athlete. It’s all about discipline and getting the best out of your time.”