Now that Serena Williams has surpassed Roger Federer with 308 match victories, she has officially become the winningest tennis player of the Open Era (not female tennis player — just player). Currently fighting for her 23rd Grand Slam title, at 34 years old, Williams is the oldest player in history to be ranked #1 in the Women's Tennis Association rankings. If she wins the US Open, she would be within one major of the all-time Grand Slam leader Margaret Court.
The running list of Williams' titles is dizzying: 22 Grand Slam singles titles, four Olympic gold medals (no silver or bronze, because duh), and $80 million in prize money.
Asked if she considers herself one of the greatest female athletes of all time, Williams responded: "I prefer the word 'one of the greatest athletes of all time.'"
So how does a superstar like Serena Williams live her daily life? With insane amounts of discipline. So much discipline, in fact, that after a blood clot in her lung left her literally on her "deathbed" in 2011, she was able to rise to the #1 ranking (again) in just 12 short months. (Thanks to the blood clot and a foot injury, her ranking had fallen to #175 due to a year of inactivity.)
In fact, Williams says that the health scare completely changed her perspective on the game of tennis.
"I realized that I'm really fortunate to be alive and to be playing, and that it's not the end of the world if I don't win. [...] I would play matches and enjoy myself. [...] Now I know I don't have to play again if I don't want to. I play because I love it."
How She Trains
Williams says she has to mix up her exercise routine so she doesn't get bored. Running, biking, yoga, and even dancing have made their way into her fitness arsenal. Her newest fitventure comes in the form of a workout featured in the Nike+Training Club app. Williams pairs with comedian Kevin Hart for a sweaty 20-minute workout, available on the free app.
Nike master trainer Marie Purvis, who helped Williams create the NTC workout, says to get Grand Slam arms like Williams', try incorporating plank rows into your fitness routine. “You’re sculpting your arms as well as your shoulders, abs and legs,” she says. Do it three times a week after cardio for sexier guns in a month. Here's how:
- Start in pushup plank position holding a dumbbell in each hand and place your legs wider than hip-width distance apart.
- With your core tight and glutes engaged, drive your right elbow straight up toward the ceiling to row, lifting the dumbbell up and to the outside of your chest. Return the dumbbell to the ground and repeat the movement on your left side. That's one rep.
How She Eats
It's all about a healthy lifestyle for Williams, who says can't take cheat days because they turn into "cheat months." Williams cut red meat and corn from her diet, much to her taste buds' dismay. “I used to eat a lot of tacos, but not anymore,” Williams said in an interview with Self Magazine. “I’m cutting out corn for this month. Too much of it will kind of bloat you up, and I want to be svelte for the fall.”
“It sucks because I love tacos, but my motto is: I eat to live. I don’t live to eat. In my sport, you have to eat to have energy."
Three ingredients Williams always has stocked? Ground turkey, cumin and paprika. (Because you can have tacos with no corn, even if you have to sub in for a whole wheat tortilla.)
>> Recipe: Cuban Pork Tacos With Pineapple Salsa
How She Sees Herself
The subject of many unfair attacks on her appearance, Williams has always been one to shut down the haters and be comfortable in her own skin.
In an interview with Good Morning America in 2015, she said: "I've been like this my whole life, and I embrace me and I love how I look. I love that I am a full woman, and I'm strong and I'm powerful and I'm beautiful at the same time. And there's nothing wrong with that."
We can certainly get behind that kind of self love! Share your thoughts about Williams in the comments below.