It says a lot about tennis star Caroline Wozniacki’s personality that Serena Williams, the woman she’s psyched up to defeat on the court at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, March 8, is also one of her closest confidantes.
“She’s one of my best friends, and it’s fun to have someone like her on tour,” she tells me the day before the match, “someone who understands what you’re doing and who can really relate to you.” (As opposed to, say, a 7 Days in Hell scenario.)
Twenty-five-year-old Wozniacki—who is Danish but now splits her time between Monaco, New York, and Miami—is equally even-keeled when discussing her tough training schedule and what motivates her to perform. We asked her to dish on her routine for some pro fitness inspiration, even if you won’t be posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition anytime soon.
Do you have a specific day-before-competition routine, which I’m currently interrupting?
I think you always kind of find what works for you. It’s not like I feel like I have to do certain things because otherwise I’m not going to win. I usually go practice a little, get my head around my opponent…eat well so that my body is ready to perform. Later, I usually stay either at home or the hotel and just relax and save it for the match.
What is your workout and training schedule typically like?
When I’m in a training period, I’m on the court three to four hours a day doing drills and in the gym two hours a day. I’ll mix it up a lot at the gym…more for my head than anything else, and your body will get used to things too. I used to do a lot of long-distance running and interval training, since I need to be fast. I also love doing stuff in the pool lately, since it saves my joints and is good for recovery. And boxing training, I love.
You mentioned running and I know you ran the 2014 New York City Marathon. What inspired that?
I’ve always wanted to do it, it was on my bucket list. It just worked out perfectly that the season was done earlier. I did it for a charity, Team For Kids, and that was my biggest motivation. Just meeting them, that really inspired me to run and finish.
How did crossing the finish line feel compared to how you feel after crushing a match?
Similar and different in many ways. That rush where you really feel like you achieved something and feel proud of yourself was similar, but when I’m on the court I expect myself to win. That’s what I train and do for a living. The marathon, I didn’t know what to expect, and I was just proud of myself for being able to finish it. I almost felt like I conquered the whole world. It was the best day ever.
What advice do you have for young women who are trying to achieve similar goals or just work out more but don’t sweat for a living?
When I know that there’s someone waiting for me at the gym, that makes me go. I think: tell your best friends. Say “Three times a week, we meet at the gym at this hour.” When you know that there’s someone there, you’re going to show up. The biggest thing is just getting into the gym. Once you’re done, you feel so great. Even if it’s just for half an hour, it’s much better than doing nothing.
Do you have any other healthy habits that help you perform and recover?
I do ice baths quite a bit. It’s not pleasant but it feels great after—it really helps. But to be honest with you the main thing is to be mentally happy and in a good place, and the rest will follow. I love spending time with my family and friends. It gives me energy to perform. When everything else in your life is good, it all falls into place.
To get to know Wozniacki’s equally inspiring BFF, check out these three quotes from Serena Williams’ Sportsperson of the Year acceptance speech.