If you have been tuning into the 2017 U.S. Open you already know that Venus Williams looks fabulously fit and is killing it on the court. Obviously, training for one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world is no joke, but how the 37-year-old prepped for this year’s competition may surprise you.
Instead of packing her diet full of protein, squeezing in training sessions at all hours of the night and putting off self-nurturing until after the tennis tourney is over, the five-time Wimbledon champion’s method is all about self-love and care.
Williams tells People she isn’t one to take time off from training, but knows “when to say when.” In addition to her time on the court, the athlete makes sure to keep her body fine-tuned with sweat sessions at the gym. “I’m all about the gym life. It’s super important to prevent injury, but also to be strong,” she says. Her main area of focus? “I live for abs.”
She also makes sure to keep her mind fresh and avoids burning out by giving herself “mental breaks” when she is drained. While she considers playing tennis “meditation,” she also mentally recharges by dancing, spending time with her family and getting rubdowns — for hours at a time.
“I see massage as a part of my training, almost,” she says. “You spend a lot of time on the table because what you’re doing is a little bit unnatural, and you break stuff because you’re just meditating on your forehand over and over. So I see that as a part of work.”
During tournaments she also makes sure she gets plenty of sleep — at least eight hours per night, to be exact. “You don’t want to just give away a match because you just couldn’t find a way to go to bed,” she says. While she stays up more at home, she believes sleep is crucial when it comes to training. “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.”
While many athletes pack protein, carbohydrates and fat into their diets while in training and performance mode, Williams, who eats “a ton” during a tournament, is actually taking a different approach this time around.
“Lately, I’ve been off the protein train — even vegan protein,” she explains. “That’s something new I’m trying. I’m not necessarily convinced we need as much protein as they say. And I still feel good. I think it’s all about how you feel and finding out what works for your body.” In lieu of protein she is drinking a lot of shakes and smoothies. “Different varieties, green ones, pink ones, red ones, all different colors with lots of fruits and veggies.”
One thing is for certain — Williams’ training methods have proved fruitful for her. While she has yet to win a title in 2017, she defeated Petra Kvitova on Tuesday and is set to take on 24-year-old Sloane Stephens in the semifinals this Thursday.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised by Venus Williams’ training methods? Do you think she’s right about not needing as much protein as people say? How would you modify her regimen?