Venus Williams has been eating a plant-based diet for a decade, and she told Insider it's transformed her tennis performance, skin, and overall health.
After being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjögren's Syndrome, which causes joint pain and fatigue, in 2011, Williams' future in tennis looked shaky. Transitioning to a
, however, was a game-changer.
Not only does a plant-based lifestyle allow Williams to manage her condition without medicine, she said, but it's improved the appearance of her skin, and
"Plant-based definitely changed my life, it made my skin amazing," Williams told Insider, and she's not the only person to have experienced the
of cutting out dairy and increasing fruit and veg consumption.
The diet has been so effective, Williams threw herself into the lifestyle, launching her own vegan company and invested in others. Now, Williams says, other athletes turn to her for advice on how to cut out meat without dampening their athletic performance.
Williams' diagnosis was the initial motivation to switch up her diet, and it was sister Serena who suggested she go raw vegan — only eating raw, plant-based foods — which she did before transitioning to a more relaxed plant-based approach.
"Living with an autoimmune disease, things can get a little tricky and you can be on loads of medicine, and that's not something that I want to do," she said. "So to be able to control as much as I can — what's happening in my body, my inflammation levels — through what I eat is a godsend."
Williams, who has just qualified as a wildcard for the Madrid Open, said going plant-based not only changed her performance on the court, but made her skin "amazing" too.
Serena and Venus are as playful now as when they were children
It took Williams' "very picky" mother a while to come round to plant-based meals — the tennis star only recently earned her mother's seal of approval on a plant-based mushroom soup — but Williams said her family have been hugely supportive of her diet, with Serena being mostly vegan
The sisters are as close now as when they were kids, Williams said, and she thinks they'll always act like children with each other.
Very active on Instagram, Williams recently amused her 1.3 million followers with a reel proving the sisters still like to poke fun at each other.
Williams told Insider she'd invited Serena out for dinner at a restaurant, Serena declined, but the older sister went anyway with another friend.
"So I go, and then the next thing I know, she shows up and I was like, 'You're kidding,'" Williams said.
She got her revenge by giving Serena, who was dining with husband Alexis Ohanian, her bill, which prompted Serena to take her sister's drink.
"It was a true story," Williams said. "She loves to do things like that though. If you're reaching for a French fry, she'll grab that fry. She's literally a little sister."