Written by Carrie Stevens, editorial intern
In case you haven’t heard of professional tennis player Vika Azarenka, we’ll catch you up to speed: She’s won two Australian Open singles titles (2012 and 2013) and two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles (2007 US Open with Max Mirnyi and 2008 French Open with Bob Bryan), plus an Olympic bronze medal for singles and gold for mixed doubles (with Mirnyi) at the London Games. Impressive for a 23-year-old, right? Before the BNP Paribas Showdown against Serena Williams at Madison Square Garden (Williams won the exhibition match 6-4, 6-3), we chatted with Azarenka about how fell in love with the sport, what she enjoyed about the 2012 Olympic Games and how she keeps her workouts fun.
When did you first pick up a racket?
I started to play tennis when I was seven years old. I was very close to my mom, and she worked at a tennis center. I couldn’t go anywhere without her, so after school, I would come back and walk around with her. She didn’t get a chance to work, so she had to distract me somehow. She gave me a tennis racket and a ball, so I started hitting it against the wall, and it was fun. One of the coaches saw me and asked if I wanted to join the group with the other kids. I was scared at the beginning, but once I started I was so happy. I really found a love for the game as a kid.
As they say, the rest is history! Aside from winning your medals at the London Games, what was your favorite part about the Olympics?
The whole journey. It was very tennis-oriented because we played far away from the other sports, so I didn’t get a chance to visit anything else. It was an amazing experience. The transformation from Wimbledon to the Olympics was completely different. Playing in singles and mixed doubles was incredible. Read more
Written by Brittany Vickers, editorial intern
Rising star Sloane Stephens has taken the tennis world by storm, becoming the youngest player in the third round of the 2011 US Open – she’s only 18! We had a chance to talk with the pro while dueling in a tennis match on the XBOX Kinect before she heads to Charleston to kick off her summer season. Guess who won that match? (Hint: it wasn’t us.)
Keep reading to find out what some of her favorite beats are and how she stays in shape off the courts.
What are some of your favorite music artists?
I listen to all kinds of music! My favorite song right now is, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson. But I also love Miley [Cyrus] and Justin Bieber – his new song, “Boyfriend,” is amazing! But he can do no wrong in my eyes. I’m also into Selena Gomez’s “Love You Like a Love Song,” Keri Hilson and Brad Paisley.
Do you listen to all of those when you work out, or do you find yourself veering somewhere else?
I listen to a lot of Rihanna and Beyonce. Both of them have some really good pump-up songs.
What are your go-to summer workouts when you need a break from tennis?
I love working out my abs! I’ll do 30 crunches, 30 side crunches, 30 straight-leg toe touches and a 60 second plank. Feel the burn! I go through it a couple of times and really start to feel it.
But I also do a lot of running. I just ran my first 5K in 21 minutes! I’m really proud of that time, but I’m never doing it again in my life! It was so hard! Besides running, I do a lot of plyometrics and jumping workouts. Things like box jumps and single-leg stability work are a part of my everyday routine.
After a tough workout, I like to use BENGAY on my sore muscles [editor’s note: Stephens is BENGAY’s latest athletic ambassador]. Their newest product is the Zero Degrees pain-relieving gel; I love that it has a vanishing scent!