Serena Williams in the Away campaign

Serena Williams talks to Stylist about mental health, travel, beauty and self-preservation

How does Serena Williams start her day? What beauty products does she never travel without? Has she been wearing slacks everyday like the rest of us in lockdown? The tennis champion answers these questions and more in an interview with Stylist.

Let’s just take a moment to try and imagine what it’s like to be Serena Williams

The former number one women’s single tennis player is arguably the biggest name in the game. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any player in the Open Era, and the second most of all time. She also holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. 

We could go on listing her tennis accolades, but they’re pretty much endless, so we’ll leave it there. But that’s enough to show exactly why Williams is the world’s richest self-made female athlete

Away from the tennis court, Williams is a feminist icon in the fight for equality, always speaking up for women’s rights at work and in sports. And she has absolutely no time for sexist questions. We’re also big fans of her sartorial and beauty choices, which often carry subtle but empowering messages

And, just because she’s probably not busy enough being a true legend, Williams is also mother to her adorable daughter, Olympia. 

Phew. It must be pretty incredible (albeit tiring) to be Williams.

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That’s why, when Williams spoke to Stylist to celebrate the launch of her collaboration with luggage company Away, we were super keen to find out her best wellbeing tips. 

From the morning and evening rituals that she does wherever she is in the world, to the one book she always travels with and how she manages to find motivation in tough times – here is our quickfire Q&A with the tennis star for anyone who wants to be a bit more Williams.

Are there any morning or evening rituals that you always do wherever you are in the world?

Staying hydrated is really important to me – beyond the obvious benefits, it helps my skin stay healthy and looking great too, so I start and end each day with a glass of water. Flying also tends to dry out my skin, so when I’m travelling I use face masks every evening to boost my hydration.

What beauty product essentials do you always pack when you travel?

Hydrating face and eye masks, coconut oil and sunscreen.

What boxset will you binge on your next long-haul flight?

When flying, I usually try to catch up on rest, so I don’t typically binge-watch shows or movies. When I do, it is usually to watch something with Olympia, probably Moana for the billionth time!

And what books will you take with you?

I never go anywhere without my Bible. 

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Even though lots of us feel quite closed off at the moment, what still excites you about travel?

Travelling with Olympia makes exploring new places so much more rewarding. She’s getting to the age where everything excites her, so I can’t wait to introduce her to new places when we can safely resume travelling.

What do you miss the most about having freedom to go anywhere you want?

I’m very grateful to have been able to spend so much time at home this year. I can barely remember a time when I haven’t been constantly travelling. That said, I have spent so much time in the Florida sun this year, so I’m really looking forward to visiting anywhere that has snow.

How have you stayed motivated through the toughest times of the pandemic?

Knowing that there will be an end to the pandemic one day and that hopefully we will emerge as more grateful and compassionate people keeps me motivated.

Serena Williams x Away

What have you found to be the best way to look after your mental health and wellbeing?

No matter how busy my day is, I always take at least five minutes to be still. Whether it’s reading my Bible or just watching Olympia play, I value those moments of quiet. They help reset my mind for the rest of the day and prioritize my wellbeing.

Have you preferred to spend your days spent at home in comfy slacks or dressing up?

These days, I aim for comfort above everything else. For me, that usually means I am wearing Nike or something from my own collection, S by Serena.

How have you stayed connected with friends and family across the world over the last year?

FaceTime is a lifesaver. Our family is constantly calling each other so, in some ways, we’ve been more connected during the pandemic than we were before.

How do you stay focused when there’s a lot going on around you?

When feeling overwhelmed or unfocused, I try to centre myself by listening to music or praying. Just taking a few minutes to myself usually helps me get back on track while there is so much going on around me.

If you have a spare hour of downtime, how do you like to use it?

What is downtime? As a mother, that feels like a myth! When I’m not working or training, I try to spend every minute I can with my family. We love to cook together, so that’s something I really enjoy doing whenever I can.

And any advice for balancing ambition with self-preservation?

Perfection is an impossible goal, so instead strive for your personal best. Be proud of who you are and where you come from.

The Serena Williams x Away luggage collection is available to shop online from 26 January.

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Images: Away x Serena Williams