Serena Williams needs "shut down" time and sets strict "boundaries" to protect her "mental fitness".
The tennis ace has opened up about her mental health in a candid chat with pop star Selena Gomez and revealed she has spent years trying to protect herself by allocating herself periods of time when she can switch off and recharge, but she still wants to work harder on self-care.
Speaking on Selena's Wondermind.com podcast, 40-year-old Serena explained: "Mental fitness for me is just really [learning] to shut down. And you know I did this years ago, before even mental health was a topic among everyone's mind.
"It was more just like, alright, I'm shutting myself down today. Just subconsciously, it was something I've always done.
"And so now that I know that it's so important to just put yourself first, especially mentally, I always have shut down moments. I have serious boundaries and I don't let anyone cross those boundaries."
However, Serena is adamant she needs to work harder on getting her priorities straight and making sure she does nice things for herself.
She added: "For me, it's so important to make sure, every day, I have a period of, like ... it's so bad, because I really don't do anything for me, I'm terrible at that! And I've said it time and time again – I'm working on it. But more or less, at least prioritising what I need to do. And then when I'm turned off, I'm turned off."
It comes after the sports star announcing she's going to start "evolving away" from tennis but insisted she didn't want to use the word "retirement".
In an essay published in Vogue magazine, she wrote: "I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution
"I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."
Serena added she's struggle with the idea of no longer playing, but accepts she needs to start moving on.
She said: "I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it's not. I'm torn: I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."