Livestrong traveled to Cannes, France to host a doubles tennis match and fireside chat with Serbian-born tennis legend Ana Ivanovic, Grand Slam champion ranked number one in the world in 2008.
We spoke with Ivanovic as part of Livestrong's Stronger Women interview series to get her thoughts on what it takes for a professional athlete to stay on top of her game physically and mentally, as well as what she has planned next in her career.
Ivanovic retired from professional tennis this past year at age 29.
"In my experience it's very hard to get balance. Someone said to me once: 'In life you can have everything, but not at the same time,' and that's really true."
Press "play" to watch the full interview where Ivanovic reveals what work-life balance means to her and what it means to be a strong woman:
"Being strong is not only working out -- it's also being mentally strong and being confident in your own abilities and body and behavior, and I think we all have that inside," says Ivanovic.
To stay fit now, Ivanovic tells us that she enjoys the gym, yoga and running. Her current favorite workout is running. "It helps to clear my mind and refreshes me," she explains.
Who Are Her Heroes?
"I grew up watching Monica Seles, so she was my big hero growing up," Ivanovic says. "Once I came on tour, I really admired Roger Federer not only for his demeanor on court and the way he plays and everything that he achieved, but also being a good person. I think that is so important because success and trophies come and go, but who you are as a person stays forever."
How Does She Motivate Herself to Work Out on Days Where She Doesn't Feel up for It?
While she acknowledges that some days it's not easy, Ivanovic says she keeps in mind that feeling she will have post-workout. "I've never completed a workout and said 'I feel horrible now,'" she explains. "And also I enjoy indulging in foods, and sometimes I do workouts so I can have ice cream!"
What Are Her Thoughts on Work-Life Balance?
When it comes to work-life balance, Ivanovic says that it's always a struggle. "In my experience it's very hard to get balance," she explains. "Someone said to me once: 'In life you can have everything, but not at the same time,' and that's really true." Ivanovic told us that when she was training and traveling year-round for tennis, she would only see her friends two times per year.
What Was It Like for Her Growing Up in Serbia?
As an 11-year-old in her hometown of Belgrade in 1999 amid NATO's 78-day bombardment of the city during the Kosovo crisis, Ivanovic says she was waking up at 6 a.m. to fit in her tennis practice between 7-9 a.m. until the bombing danger started again in the midday.
She explains how she and (her childhood friend and) fellow Serbian Novak Djokovic played in tennis tournaments where the young players would compete in matches set between the bombing sirens. "I think that made us tougher," Ivanovic says. "Because you appreciate that much more what you have got."
See more of Livestrong's Stronger Women interviews.
About the Author
JESS BARRON is VP & GM for LIVESTRONG.COM, a leading healthy lifestyle website with over 29 million unique monthly viewers. In addition to LIVESTRONG, her writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune and MyDomaine. Jess has appeared on MSNBC and ABC News and has been a keynote speaker at Health Further and a panelist at Create & Cultivate and Digital Hollywood. Follow Jess on Instagram at @jessbeegood and Twitter too!
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