Is Serena Williams on Steroids or Natty? (Unbiased Analysis)

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 2, 2024
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Could the success of Serena Williams, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, be attributed to factors like genetics, dedication to training, and overcoming health challenges, or could it be related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs?

As a fitness trainer at TotalShape, I've closely observed Serena's games, playing style, workout routine, and diet.

Keep reading as we explore the truth behind Serena's story, you may be surprised if steroids are harmful based on her experience.

Serena’s Stats

  • Age: 40 (born on 26 September 1981)
  • Height:  5’9” (175 cm)
  • Weight:  157 lbs (71 kgs)
  • Breast: 40 inches
  • Waist: 29 inches
  • Hips: 44 inches

 

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The Women's Tennis Association ranked Serena's singles world No. 1 eight times. In addition to being a four-time Olympic gold medalist, Serena has won 73 career singles titles, 23 doubles titles, and two mixed doubles titles.

“The wins and the losses always lead to these big moments, unless you're Serena Williams.”

— Venus Williams, Professional Tennis Player, Sister of Serena Williams

Reasons Why Williams Might Be On Steroids

Woman using a treadmill

Williams’ performance as one of the top tennis players and the development of her overall appearance and behavior have led me to wonder whether she used the help of steroids.

Below are some of the signs that could indicate that she potentially used performance-enhancing drugs.

Increased Muscle Mass

Look at a photo of Williams in her 20s and compare it to her current physique: it feels like two different people. She has put on a significant deal of muscle mass, even though she grew older.

Having trained numerous athletes over the years, I've seen firsthand how genetics and rigorous training can lead to significant body transformations. While some speculate about Serena's physique, it's essential to consider the dedication and hard work she puts into her training.

“First of all her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. It’s the whole thing—her presence, her confidence, her personality...Even now, she can make me feel like a little girl.”

— Maria Sharapova, Russian Former World No. 1 Tennis Player

Aggressive Behavior During Games

Angry woman shouting

A 2018 study showed that increased testosterone has the same positive relationship with aggression in women as in men [1].

I’ve watched a fair share of women's tennis and many of Serena’s games and found her style of play to be significantly more aggressive than other female tennis players (and some men as well).

She is also known to have one too many outbursts during her games and even broke her racket during her 2018 Open final against Naomi Osaka.

The combination of an aggressive playing style and her aggressive behaviors could be an indication of heightened testosterone levels caused by taking steroids. However, we cannot be too sure.

Pulmonary Embolism

Back in March 2011, Williams suffered from a pulmonary embolism.

Pulmonary embolisms in women are usually a result of a sedentary lifestyle [2].

A 2016 study found that pulmonary embolisms (PE) were associated with the use of anabolic steroids [3]. And another 2016 study found that even though related substances also considered doping called corticosteroids reduce swelling and treat inflammatory diseases, they increase the risk of pulmonary embolisms [4] [5].

Since Williams’ lifestyle is the polar opposite of sedentary, one could say that her PE could be a result of steroid use.

Is It Possible for Women to Naturally Become Like Williams?

Woman working out on a gym

Yes. Provided a woman has the same genetic disposition as Williams and strictly follows her workout and diet, it is possible for her to naturally become like Serena Williams.

Serena is genetically disposed to have a wider-than-average frame for a woman, giving her certain advantages from the start.

Those limited by their genetics can speed up their efforts noticeably by using something like bulking stacks based on legal and natural supplements.

These are alternatives to legal steroids and can increase your stamina, strength, and testosterone production, resulting in more effective muscle growth.

Physiological Differences

Every woman has a unique physical makeup. While steroids can alter physiology, not all women will respond the same way to these substances.

Before assuming that Serena's physique results from steroid use, we considered natural variations and how her genetics and training might have influenced her physical form.

The Risks for Athletes Like Serena

Steroid use may come with long-term health side effects if you abuse them.

For elite athletes like Serena, any association with steroids could impact not only her health but also her legacy and reputation. Addressing any allegations with concrete evidence and avoiding baseless speculations is essential.

What Would It Take To Perform and Look Like Her?

healthy vegetable salad

Diet

Serena's diet is tailored for peak performance. She often skips breakfast, focusing on family and workouts.

During tennis season, Serena sticks to a mostly vegan diet. She consumes plenty of beans, nuts, lentils, and sprouted quinoa. Of course, she has the occasional cheat day where she indulges in her favorite foods, such as fried chicken, moon pies, and grits.

She takes vegan protein shakes, multivitamins for women, and oil of oregano and garlic for her supplements.

Before her matches, she loads up on greens, fruits, some carbs, and some kind of protein. She does this to consume a variety of food groups in one sitting [6].

Training and Workout Routine

Kicking off her day, Serena hits an hour of cardio, be it running or biking. It's not just about getting the blood pumping; it sets the day's disciplined tone. She mixes steady-state cardio for stamina with HIIT for that quick on-court dash.

She performs strength training three to four times a week, zooming in on her arms, glutes, core, and legs - the muscles that give her that killer serve and volley. Arm day sees push-ups, dumbbell curls, and tricep dips. It's all about ramping up her game.

She has glute exercises like squats and lunges in her arsenal for those powerful court moves. Her core sessions? Planks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches medley ensure she nails those tricky shots with finesse.

And let's not forget those legs. Drills like box jumps and sled pushes keep her agile, making sure she's always a step ahead on the court.

FAQs

Was Serena Williams Ever Tested for PEDs?

In 2018, the U.S. The Anti-Doping Agency tested Williams five times, which she claims were target testing. Interestingly, other top female players such as Danielle Collins, Madison Keys, and Alison Riske were submitted to a drug test fewer times, leading some folks to believe Serena’s tests were invasive and targeted treatment.

Was Serena Williams Ever Banned for Steroid Use?

No, she was never banned for steroid use. However, in 2016, she was revealed to have received a number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) from the International Tennis Federation.

She did not break any drug testing, even though she tested positive, because the World Anti-Doping Agency allows the use of banned substances for medical purposes.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5942158/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3266839/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18395167/
  4. https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/education/five-things-know-glucocorticoids/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26897283/
  6. https://www.businessinsider.com/serena-williams-diet-plant-based-never-pasta-again-2021-9

 

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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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