Venus Williams is not just a tennis star. While you’ve been sleeping, she’s been leading wellness startups like Asutra, a self-care products brand, and Happy Viking, a plant-based nutrition brand; designing activewear under her EleVen by Venus Williams label; and running a commercial interior design business based out of Florida, amongst, you know, playing in the occasional international tennis tournament and producing a Hollywood blockbuster.
“I’m doing a bit of everything,” she admits over the phone. But after so many years of juggling—both tennis balls and the proverbial—she’s become an expert at prioritizing and knowing what she needs to feel good, like a proper night of sleep. “Honestly, my younger self had it,” Williams tells SELF of her more restful days of yore. Though her schedule’s become a bit more hectic, she still keeps rest as a priority: “I don’t compromise my sleep,” Williams says. “I’ve always been that way. So younger me is very much in tune with older me.”
Williams resides in Florida with her “needy” dog, Harry. She’s been lying somewhat low, taking extra precautions surrounding COVID-19. “The last thing you want to do is get COVID and it’s time to play the U.S. Open and you can’t play—or you have long-COVID [and] you’re feeling fatigue for months,” she explains. Still, there’s plenty to keep her busy, which is why her downtime is so important. Williams also lives with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause symptoms like dry eye and dry mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Sleep is pretty important—it can make and break you if you have an autoimmune disease,” she says. “So sleep was always nonnegotiable for me, but it’s even more so now.”
Here, Williams walks SELF through her bedtime routine—including her skin-care must-haves, her pre-match prep, and why boundaries are such a staple part of self-care.
I usually like to try to hydrate a little bit before bed.
My favorite is to have a big glass of water with lemon. I’m also plant-based, and I try to get 90 grams of protein a day, so I haven’t gotten all of it by then I’ll add some protein into my drink. I use Happy Viking protein, typically chocolate.
Part of my nighttime routine, too, is that I have to walk the dog and he expects a snack.
There’s a lot of pressure—if I don’t give him a snack, he keeps dancing. If I want any peace, I have to give him a snack. He should go to D.C. and be a lobbyist, I think, because his guy doesn’t stop until he gets it.
Taking care of my face is a must, especially now that I’m 41.
I don’t look 41 yet, so I’m trying to freeze time right here forever, until I’m, like, 80. It’s unrealistic, but I’m convinced I can do it. Please cheer me on for these next 40 years. So I go ahead and I scrub my face—that’s one of the most important steps in my routine—with a face scrubber by Nu Skin. And then I use an exfoliating serum from Living Libations. It’s made with green papaya and lime. I quite like the serum—I really feel like it works. The next day my skin is brighter.
I like to hydrate all of my skin before I go to bed, because it’s the perfect time: You’re sleeping, so your body can regenerate overnight and you wake up with nice skin instead of that horrible, dry skin. I use Asutra Melt Body Butter with lavender because the lavender is so soothing. Then I also use a lavender body oil. I like to put on the cream first because it has water, and then you seal in the moisture with the oil on top. And for the last step, because I’m African American, I use castor oil on my hair.
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