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In the last few decades, female athletes have made some big strides in the world of sports. They broke barriers, defied odds, and set records that many wouldn’t have thought possible in a different era. Along the way, they learn many invaluable lessons through falling, getting back up, and winning.
In the past, Women’s Quest has talked about finding motivation and professional athletes are among the best external sources of it. Here are five inspirational athletes and some of their words of wisdom.

Maria Sharapova: On fitness and nutrition
Tennis is a demanding sport that requires a large amount of practice specifically if you don’t want to lose your hand-eye coordination. Maria Sharapova trains 5-6 times a week and incorporates a mix of cardio and strengthening workouts. She is especially fond of Pilates because of its focus on the core. Her diet isn’t too restrictive but her general rule is that it doesn’t have to be complicated as long as it’s balanced. She usually eats a carb-loaded breakfast with fruits and toast and a protein-filled lunch such as chicken and fish. As for snacks, the Russian tennis star typically chooses food rich in healthy fat like almonds.
Lindsey Vonn: On overcoming injury
Due to her sport, alpine skier Lindsey Vonn has a long history of injuries, from a concussion to numerous broken bones. But she has also managed to recover time and time again, proving her resiliency as an athlete. Vonn explained in a tell-all on InStyle, “When you’re coming back from an injury, you have to focus on the small steps and the little victories. It’s too frustrating to think long-term.” Practically speaking, Vonn usually starts with motion exercises and manual therapy before moving on to rebuilding strength. Be patient and don’t expect to recover right away. Each step you take, no matter how small, is a victory to be celebrated.
Johanna Konta: On losing

For Johanna Konta, losing is a part of the game. She said so herself in a press conference after losing in the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships earlier this year. She adds, “I did do a lot of good things and then learn from the things I can try to do better.” It’s a demonstration of how important it is to accept and move on from failure. More importantly, consider these experiences as pointers for improvement. Even at the start of her career, she always kept this perspective in mind and used it as motivation to excel. She did reap the rewards eventually, as she reached the women’s top 10 of the WTA in 2016 from a previous ranking of 150. Coral lists Johanna Konta as one of the most iconic British sportswomen since 2000 and she’s currently Britain’s number one female tennis player. In a 10-year career, Konta has shown a lot of growth in her game.
Serena Williams: On confidence
It’s hard to imagine that one of the most powerful tennis players of all time struggles with her confidence. But in truth, Serena Williams is just like the rest of us. Williams went on record to say, “I keep it to myself, I use positive affirmations and I try to believe in myself. Then I take things one stage at a time.” Even focusing on scoring one point can help build confidence and squash insecurities. And it also applies with physical appearance, as athletes have to deal with criticism over how they look. The 23-Grand Slam holder says: “Love who you are and if you do that, people will love who you are as well.”

Shalane Flanagan: On uplifting others
The first woman to win the prestigious New York City Marathon in 40 years is not alone in her victory. The New York Times states that 11 other women qualified for the Olympics after being personally mentored by Shalane Flanagan. It’s truly inspiring how she’s taking other aspiring athletes that could eventually become her rivals, under her wing. Flanagan, however, says that working with others makes her a better person and athlete. The veteran long-distance runner emphasized, “When we achieve great things on our own, it doesn’t feel nearly as special.”
Article submitted for the exclusive use of womensquest.com
Karina Rose