The vegan movement shows no signs of slowing down so we’ve taken a look to see which tennis players follow a vegan diet.
Tennis is a demanding sport that requires players to be physically fit and agile, so it’s no wonder why some of the sport’s top stars are turning to a plant-based diet in order to improve their fitness and recovery times.
From tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams to the world’s no1. player, Novak Djokovic, these vegan tennis players all prove that a plant-based diet is the key to success.
1. Venus Williams
Venus Williams to help ease the symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome, a debilitating and incurable autoimmune disease. Image credit: Jamie Squire via Getty Images
Venus Williams adopted a vegan diet on the recommendation of her doctor, after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, a debilitating and incurable autoimmune disease, which causes excessive fatigue. Doctors encouraged her to adopt a raw vegan diet to help manage her diagnosis, and her sister and fellow tennis player Serena took on the diet to support Venus. She was told that the raw diet would help with fatigue and joint pain.
Speaking to Health magazine, Venus Williams said: “I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and I wanted to maintain my performance on the court. Once I started, I fell in love with the concept of fuelling your body in the best way possible [through raw, vegan food].”
When asked about any tips she had to help people change their diets, Williams said: “I always tell people that you have to enjoy what you’re eating. If you’re eating a plant-based diet, or a mixture of one, make sure you’re eating something you like. Find a restaurant, recipes, or join a community – that way you can learn and enjoy your food. If you can’t enjoy your eating, I don’t know how much life would be!”
2. Serena Williams
Serena has released a vegan fashion line using innovative, animal-friendly materials. Image credit: Tim Clayton - Corbis via Getty Images
Venus’ sister Serena is believed to follow a mostly vegan diet, for health reasons, however some articles say that she relapses to non-vegan foods.
In an article published on Hungry Forever, Serena Williams said: “I think it’s just really good to clean out your system sometimes just to get rid of all the waste and things like that that are just in your system and let the earth from the plants really clean you out. So I’m a big believer in that.”
In recent years, Serena has launched her own vegan fashion line complete with a collection inspired by Africa – S by Serena Spring 2020.
Speaking to ESSENCE about the decision to use vegan materials including animal-free leather, the athlete and entrepreneur explained: “I feel like a lot of things are being killed and we’re not saving the earth. We can all just do one small thing and help out so that was also a lot of our inspiration.”
3. Novak Djokovic
Serbia tennis player, Novak Djokovic, who ranked world No. 1 for a record total 373 weeks, is a vocal proponent of plant-based diets. Image credit: Valerio Pennicino/Stringer via Getty Images
Novak Djokovic is one of the most successful vegan tennis players of all time and fuels his body with a healthy plant-based diet.
Djokovic switched to a vegan, gluten-free diet following health problems which saw him collapsing mid-match. He trialled a gluten-free diet and immediately noticed the effects, prompting him to stick to a gluten-free diet. Intolerance tests found that dairy was also a problem, and removed refined sugar too.
Speaking about his diet to Forbes, Djokovic said: “My diet hasn’t just changed my game, it’s changed my life – my wellbeing. And if I feel better, that obviously transfers to my professional life. Eating vegan makes me more aware of my body on the court… more alert. I removed toxin from my body, and with them went all the inflammation and other things that were messing with my energy levels.
“As an athlete, the most important this is to keep your energy levels consistent – especially as a tennis player, where you’re alone on the course for a best of five match. When playing for 3, 4, 5 hours straight, you need the right fuel… and for me, that right fuel is plant based.”
Djokovic practices yoga and meditation daily to have a calm state of mind, and when speaking to Amuse, he said: “Everybody has their ways to reach that state of consciousness where you’re in a good mood and you feel love towards yourself, towards people around you, towards the planet. The tennis star opened a vegan restaurant in 2016 in Monaco, called Eqvita.
4. Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova, who won 18 grand slams – including 9 Wimbledon titles, is an animal lover and avid supporter of PETA. Image credit: Roy Rochlin/Stringer
Although Martina Navaratilova is retired from professional tennis, she is one of the athletes who is vegan and is an avid supporter of PETA. She is one of the greatest tennis players in history, winning 18 grand slams – including 9 Wimbledon titles.
Her notable tennis career busts all the myths about sportspeople needing meat to be successful, and the dreaded question from every vegan about where your protein comes from.
Countless documentaries and studies disprove the need for meat in our diets to be successful in sports and to properly function in day-to-day life.
The vegan community continually has to put up with people claiming that veganism isn’t a diet that humans should follow; however, the millions of healthy vegans and vegan athletes with successful sports careers put these opinions to shame.
5. Hubert Hurkacz
Polish tennis player Hubert Hurkacz has followed a plant-based diet since 2018.
In an interview with ATPTour.com, Hurkacz said he was inspired to go vegan after watching documentaries about food and receiving recommendations
The sportsman, who was once ranked world No. 9 in singles, said that he was motivated to stick with a plant-based diet because he soon “started to feel pretty good, with more energy.”
On match days, he keeps his energy levels high with a meal of rice, veggies and tomato sauce. During the match, he snacks on bananas and dates to give him a boost of energy.
Polish tennis player Hubert Hurkacz has followed a plant-based diet since 2018. Image credit: Kelly Defina/Stringer via Getty Images
6. Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios was inspired to adopt a plant-based diet Image credit: Kelly Defina/Stringer via Getty Images
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios, who finished as runner-up to fellow plant-based player Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon 2022, is also fuelled by a plant-based diet.
Unlike many sports stars who turn to a plant-based diet to improve performance, it was seeing the suffering animals faced in fires that ravaged Australia in 2020 that inspired Kyrgios to ditch meat and dairy.
“I don’t eat meat or dairy anymore. That’s not for my health, I just don’t believe in eating animals,” he explained in a blog post.
“Seeing the footage of these animals suffering with the fires only reinforces why I’ve chosen this diet. When I see these terrible photos, I can’t comprehend eating meat.”
Sports stars around the world are harnessing the power of plants to improve their performance. Here are some of the top vegan athletes who eat a plant-based diet.
Featured image credit: Tim Clayton – Corbis/Contributor