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When cities started to lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March, gyms started to shut too, but that didn't mean any downtime for one of the world's best and busiest tennis stars, Venus Williams. Instead, the seven-time Grand Slam champion helped her 1.2 million Instagram followers stay active while she was quarantined at home in Florida.
With her #CoachVenus IG series, Zoom calls with her team (she runs two businesses, activewear brand EleVen by Venus Williams and interior design company V Starr), and general training, Williams was "booked around the clock". Now, ahead of the biggest week in tennis, her day job on the courts has rightfully taken over. Departures had the opportunity to catch up with the world-class athlete right after she wrapped up a five-hour training session in New York to talk about her favorite workout moves and how she finds life balance in barbecues, which is where her newest partnership comes in: Ketel One Botanical's newest addition to the canned cocktail game, the Vodka Spritz.
How are you feeling? Looking forward to this year’s somewhat different US Open?
"I'm great. Even though there's no audience it's still going to be great, definitely. The player's area is going to be a little different but everyone's feeling good".
What does prep look like ahead of the Open? Any particular workouts or routines you do before?
"Just small improvements for my game, incorporating cardio, strength, flexibility, and range is super important as you need to be able to do whatever you can to hit that ball. I've been training hard and doing the work all through quarantine so now I'm raring to go. And then I'm also dancing non-stop when I'm working out. I love finding old school songs to dance to. Right now I'm loving Mr. Fingers "Mystery Of Love", it's a really cool late 80s early 90s house song. I love 90s house and dance music. It gets me moving, feeling free, and happy!"
Tell us about your Coach Williams fitness sessions on Instagram. How did that come about? How else did you spend your time at home?
"When the gyms shut, I started [the videos] to help others stay active, and then it ended up helping me stay active. I started having guests on there and I wanted [those who watched it] to think, "I want to work harder, I want to be just as strong as her" and it's been motivating and inspiring. I was booked around the clock at home, making the videos, then everything went to Zoom with my team. In terms of food, I'd cook or I'd order something healthy to eat and then make time to have fun with Saturday barbecues. When you have a tight schedule, you need to make time to do something you enjoy—and food and vodka is on that list! I love the Vodka Spritz for me personally as it's so light and delightful, 100% non-GMO grain, has no added sugar, and fits my lifestyle perfectly."
There are so many workouts of yours available now, what moves should people who haven't worked out in a while try at home first?
"When you're getting back into it, it can be discouraging when you wake up and you're sore. So stretch and work on mobility and lunging, maybe sit and lean back on a wall and hold it for 20 seconds or so, take it easier until you get acclimatized."