These days, it seems as though many top athletes are opting for a healthy plant-based diet in order to up their game. It’s an understandable shift, because there is clear evidence that switching to a vegan diet isn’t just better for minimizing one’s environmental impact, it's also got tremendous health benefits. With Wimbledon starting on June 28, 2021, many fans might find themselves wondering about the tennis players who are vegan, and what caused them to make the change in the first place.
Tennis players who are vegan:
Choosing a vegan diet offers many health benefits, including a reduce chance of heart disease, according to The Kitchn. Not to mention, a plant-based diet is powering numerous athletes these days, as seen in the documentary The Game Changers. The tennis players below are just a sampling of the many vegan athletes playing today, and all of them have very good reasons for having switched to this eco-friendly diet.
Editor’s Note: This list was compiled through not only personal research, but also a roundup compiled by PETA.
According to Media Referee, tennis champ Venus Williams initially made the switch to a raw vegan diet in 2011, after being diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease. Sjögren’s syndrome can cause extreme fatigue and joint pain, which aren’t great if your career happens to involve jumping around and swinging at a ball at high speeds. Knowing what was at stake, Williams’ doctors advised her to try veganism, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life.
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios wasn’t always a vegan. It wasn’t until the 2020 Australian bushfires that he began to reevaluate his position on eating other animals. According to PETA, the tennis pro was devastated when he saw how much the animals of Australia suffered during that time. Devastated by the loss of animal life, Kyrgios made a profound lifestyle change and stopped eating meat and dairy. He also recently partnered with vegan company Beyond Meat.
Serena Williams, upon seeing what a vegan diet could do for her sister, decided to join in the plant-based fun in 2017. According to Essentially Sports, Williams fought against the shift for a long while. Eventually, though, she adopted the vegan diet to help make things easier for her sister and has stuck to it since then, enjoying plant-based proteins like hemp seeds, chia seeds, and brown rice, as per body+soul.
Novak Djokovic is considered to be the world’s No. 1 male tennis player, and many attribute this fact to his allegedly vegan diet. But while it’s true that Djokovic does not eat any meat or dairy products, he does not openly call himself a vegan. According to Celeb Answers, Djokovic prefers the term plant-based diet when describing his dietary habits.
Djokovic first learned to love veganism in 2010, when he invited famed nutritionist Dr. Igor Cetojevic to join his team. During their collaboration, Dr. Cetojevic discovered that Djokovic had a gluten intolerance and advised him to keep gluten and dairy out of his diet. In terms of the Serbian champ’s performance, the results have been spectacular.
According to Great Vegan Athletes, Vicki Cosio, who won the U.S. Senior National Tournament in 2014, decided to switch to veganism way back in 1999. Her justification for the switch? The animals.
“We are vegan for the animals,” she once said about herself and her husband, as per Green Vegan Athletes. “We love them so much. We can’t stand the thought of animal cruelty, and we don’t want to be a part of it. That’s the reason we went vegan.”
Bonus: Martina Navratilova
With 18 grand slam titles and 31 women’s doubles titles to her name, Martina Navratilova is an absolute legend when it comes to the game of tennis. Of course, it isn’t just her unimpeachable skill at the game which defines this amazing athlete, but her dedication to animal rights. An avid supporter of PETA, the tennis legend never made it all the way to veganism, though she has been an ardent vegetarian for many years, according to Media Referee.