Even someone who doesn’t watch tennis (i.e. yours truly) will know and admire Venus Williams, a 75-time championship title winner and one of the world’s greatest athletes of all time. Not only is she still playing at age 40, she has founded her own activewear / clothing line (EleVen—so named because one shouldn’t stop at “perfect ten,” but go beyond to eleven—welp!!), interior design firm, a little clean beauty project, and even a plant-based protein company (Happy Viking). It all makes you wonder how she has the energy to do it all—and it’s even more astonishing considering that she has an autoimmune condition called Sjogrens syndrome. It’s clear that there is some secret to that boundless motivation—and we need answers!
“I feel like I have something to give, so that drives me,” Williams said in a recent goop podcast. All her varied interests arise out of her need to add value to the world, which resonates with me. And she creates that enviable drive with her mental training. “You have to train your mind,” she notes. “What’s great about the great players is their mind. Who can be stronger mentally for the longest amount of time.” This makes sense: there are a lot of talented people in the world, but what gives you the edge is resilience in face of setbacks and calm focus under pressure.
Williams, who has suffered from injuries and was diagnosed with Sjogrens at age 31, definitely knows a thing or two about the power of the mind. “Waking up with no regrets doesn’t mean you never fail. It just means you gave everything even those times you failed. And that’s something you can be proud of.” I’m going to write this on a sticky note and put it in front of my desk so that I can nurse my wounds in a fierce warrior style, like Venus!
Williams strongly believes in the interconnectedness of mind and body; being healthy in one is not possible without the other. Her chronic symptoms include dry eyes, dry mouth, joint pain, and fatigue, which she manages with some important lifestyle factors. “Gluten-free diet helps for joint pain,” she says. She also maintains a sugar-free, plant-based diet, and focuses on getting enough sleep. She takes iron, glutamine for gut health, adaptogens, magnesium, and vitamin B—all great suggestions for plant-based athletes and non-athletes alike.
Williams has been outspoken about how a plant-based diet helped her get back in competing form, and this passion led her to found Happy Viking, a vegan protein shake brand. The shakes are made with yellow pea and brown rice proteins, algae-based DHA, and high-oleic sunflower oil to boost both your brain and your body. It also comes in a 100% recyclable packaging that was created using 100% renewable energy with just 1/2 the carbon footprint of plastic packaging.
As if that’s not enough (seriously, how does she do it??), Williams is also a fan of making her own hair and skin products and sharing them with friends and family. With that DIY experience on hand, she collaborated with Credo to launch a sunscreen and a lip balm (with SPF 15). Both are vegan, reef-safe, and made with zinc oxide.
EleVen by Venus Williams Sun Serum, $50
EleVen by Venus Williams Lip Balm, $19
If this doesn’t make you feel like you need to get off your bum and start moving mountains, what will? I’m feeling pretty inspired to go beyond 10 and shoot for something bigger, you?
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Photo: Happy Viking, EleVen