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Beyond the Baseline

Serena Williams talks diet and body image for Fitness magazine cover story

In the new issue of Fitness magazine, Serena Williams talks about how her health scare changed her attitude towards tennis. (Jeff Olson/Fitness Magazine) In the new issue of Fitness magazine, Serena Williams talks about how her health scare changed her attitude towards tennis. (Jeff Olson/Fitness Magazine)

Serena Williams graces the cover of this month's issue of Fitness, in which she discusses her split personality and body image issues, and talks about hopefully adding to her Olympic pin collection in 2016. Hard-core tennis fans won't learn anything particularly new from the interview, but it's always great to see Serena get an opportunity to tell her story to a broader audience.

Here are some excerpts from the cover story:

On her Jekyl and Hyde personas on and off court: "I think of myself as two different people. There's the Serena Williams that everyone knows: She's crazy. She can't make a mistake. And she's angry and just not nice, to be honest. I'm only that person for three hours a day, when I'm on the court. The rest of the time I'm just Serena. I'm the class clown."

In her interview, Serena says when she's not on the court, she's "the class clown." (Jeff Olson/Fitness Magazine) In her interview, Serena says when she's not on the court, she's "the class clown." (Jeff Olson/Fitness Magazine)

On the start of her comeback after injury and illness in 2011"I'd never been in a match thinking, I'm not going to win, but there I was at Wimbledon in 2011, where I had won the year before, and I knew I wasn't going to win once I started playing. I couldn't breathe. I remember seeing stars, and I thought I was going to faint."

On her struggle to stay fit: "I love Southern food. I don't try to eat healthy when I'm in South Carolina for the Family Circle Cup tournament. I eat shrimp and grits with butter on top, fried chicken, and, oh, do I eat the fried hush puppies! And the banana pudding -- mmm, mmm, mmm! I let myself go that whole week and then another week after that."

On trying to stay on track: "I can't take cheat days too often because my cheat days are usually cheat months! But diet is a bad word. I always say it's a lifestyle change, because if you call it that, you won't want those fried hush puppies. Clearly I haven't completed my lifestyle change! But I'm trying, I'm really trying.

On grappling with her body image issues: "Unless I'm eating really healthy, I feel that way almost every other week. I feel as if I can do better and be smaller, which I think is just a natural thing for women to feel. We're taught that we have to look a certain way.... I learned to be proud of my curves and to embrace my large boobs and my butt. It's all about loving who you are and realizing that you're beautiful."

Read the full interview here.
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