Daily Routines

Serena Williams: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

When you think about some of the most dominant athletes in recent history – whether it’s Tiger Woods, LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather or Tom Brady – there’s no doubt that the name Serena Williams will pop up on that list.

A true champion in every sense of the word, Serena has been dominating the tennis world for over two decades, winning an incredible 23 Grand Slam singles titles — the most by any player in the Open Era and the second-most of all time — and cementing her place in history as one of the greatest athletes of all time.

I think that my story is universal. I don’t think it’s limited to my country, I don’t think it’s limited to my color, I don’t think it’s limited to my sex. I think it’s universal because I was not born with anything more special than anyone else. I wasn’t born with an extra arm. I wasn’t born super tall. I’m here — a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment. And I’ve had a lot of people that didn’t believe in me, so I had to develop a lot of self-belief. At the end of the day, I think it’s a story that everyone in all walks of life can relate to.

How Serena Williams Became The G.O.A.T. | Fader

But there is much more to Serena than just her sporting prowess. Her story is a testament to hard work, perseverance, and family. Born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan to Oracene Price and Richard Williams, Serena grew up with four sisters. Her father, who had no prior experience in tennis, decided to teach his daughters the sport when they were just four years old.

Despite facing racism and discrimination in the predominantly white sport, Serena and her sister Venus continued to train hard and improve their game. “Venus and I started out being successful, continued to be successful, and we were also unapologetically ourselves,” the tennis legend recalled in an interview with Allure. “We were not afraid to wear braids. We weren’t afraid to be black in tennis. And that was different.”

At age nine, the family moved from Compton to Florida, so the girls could attend a tennis academy where they received additional coaching. She turned professional in 1995 and won her first major singles title at the 1999 US Open.

From the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, Serena was dominant, winning all four major singles titles and achieving a non-calendar year Grand Slam and the career Grand Slam, known as the ‘Serena Slam’. After a few years of injuries and a decline in form, she returned to dominance in 2012, winning eight out of thirteen singles majors, including all four in a row from 2014–15, to achieve a second “Serena Slam”.

More recently, Serena has been making moves to transition away from tennis and towards the world of venture capitalism via her VC firm, Serena Ventures. But as she said in Vogue, she’s not “retiring” — it doesn’t feel like a modern word to her. Instead, she sees her move away from tennis as an “evolution”. In her own words, she’s “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me”.

Serena Williams’ daily work schedule

In 2020, when she was juggling her tennis career along with her young daughter Olympia and working at Serena Ventures, the tennis GOAT did an interview with Fast Company to give readers a glimpse of a day in her life as a professional athlete, working mum and VC investor.

When it comes to her daily schedule, Serena typically wakes up around 7 or 8 am, but admits that it’s only because her daughter, Olympia, is already awake. “I don’t necessarily get out of bed,” she says, and the first thing she does in the morning is check her phone.

One app that has helped the tennis superstar stay on top of her daily routine is Toggl — a time tracking app — which she uses to monitor how she spends her day. This helps her make sure she’s devoting enough time to her family, her businesses, and her tennis career. “It’s really good for me, because at the end of the day I can say how much time I spent” on each area of her life “and how it adds up,” she told Fast Company.

When Serena was training for tennis tournaments, she was incredibly disciplined with her time. She’d spend four hours each morning on the court, from 9 am until 1 pm, and during that time, she was off-limits to everyone around her. “Morning time is tennis time,” she explained. “Afternoon time is business time. I’m really, really organized with my time.”

This steadfast focus and discipline gained in her pursuit of athletic excellence extends to her business life as well. According to her friend and business partner, Alex Asonye, Serena is always on time or even a minute early for calls, and she’ll even text ahead of time if she’s going to be even a few minutes late. “If she’s going to be [even] three minutes late, she’s going to give you a heads-up,” says Asonye.

But just like the coaches and training partner in her tennis life, Serena relies on a group of people to help propel her various business ventures forward. “I have three separate teams that keep me on track with my schedule: I have a team with Serena Ventures, I have a team with Serena Williams, and I have a team with S by Serena clothing line,” she said. “They help me stay sane. When it comes to emotional wellbeing, being organized and making sure that my daily life is scheduled definitely brings me a little bit of joy, because it’s like, okay, I know what to expect.”

After a long day, Serena likes to unwind by watching TV shows like Downton Abbey. When it comes to sleep, Serena acknowledges that she struggles with falling asleep. “I don’t sleep a lot,” she revealed. “I could go to bed at 11, but go to sleep at 2. I go to bed, but I won’t sleep. I’m just not a good sleeper.”

Despite her less-than-optimal sleep schedule, the tennis GOAT recognises the importance of rest and recovery in her daily routine, and has been working on incorporating meditation into her schedule.

I’m working on practicing meditation. I feel like I need to do it regularly. Do I? No. But I’m getting there! I also understand that prayer is a form of meditation. My motto is: Any time, any day, we can pray. It’s not like I have to pray at a particular time; it’s just any time I feel I’m feeling stressed or misguided, I just say a prayer.

Train Like a Pro: How Serena Williams Stays Strong With At-Home Workouts and a (Mostly) Vegan Diet | Vogue

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.