Saturday, 18 July 2015

“I’m an athlete. I let my body do what it wants.”: How Venus Williams Really Feels About Her Body

A recent New York Times article discussing body image issues among female tennis players cited tennis star Serena Williams's muscular figure: "Her rivals could try to emulate her physique," the article read, "but most of them choose not to."  Readers rightfully freaked, calling the piece sexist, racist, and counterproductive in bringing equality and recognition to women's sports. asked Serena's sister (and sometimes rival) Venus about her body image — and more.
Some people have misconceptions about strong women — they think that women who are strong are masculine and undesirable. Do you ever think about your body beyond its functionality? 
I always thought of it like, "What can my body do for me?" and not, "How do I look?" I've always been happy with my body. Of course I want to look well and fit — and as an athlete, I want to look strong. I want my opponents to look at me across the net and just not want it play me because I look so fit and amazing and strong. So that's always my goal.

Do you avoid strength training to prevent bulking up? [Ed's note: Serena uses this technique, defaulting to Therabands for resistance training, as per The New York Times.]
I let my body do whatever it wants to do. I'm an athlete, so my main concern is how to achieve my top performance, whatever that takes. In terms of strength training, I do a lot of tennis-specific exercises for injury-prevention, particularly to promote shoulder stability and to strengthen my core. Even if you're not playing a sport, it's important to make sure your core is strong because it helps prevent back injuries. But I still hate planks — they never get easier!

You're clearly in amazing shape, but athletes tend to retire earlier than say, accountants. Do you have any plans for retirement? What's your next move?
Yeah, I went to fashion school, and I'm graduating from business school in a few weeks. I have a lot of good role models in my family for things off the court — like my older sister, who's a lawyer. I don't like writing papers, but she's helped me a lot. It's nice to have an art and business background because they tie together perfectly.

“I let my body do whatever it wants to do. I’m an athlete, so my main concern is how to achieve my top performance, whatever that takes.” - See more at:

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