Alex Cayley

The Interview

You won't find any professional athlete who doesn't feel pain somewhere. It's part of our job, part of our lives. You just accept it.

Have you ever felt self-conscious about your physique?

No. It wasn't something I ever thought much about. I was always involved in sports, even when I was in school, so I was always quite fit. Really, I don't remember a single day as a kid when I didn't play some kind of sport. Even if I wasn't playing tennis, I was going outdoors to rollerblade with my friends. If I had a day off, I would not think about going to the museum or staying inside.

How do you stay on top of your fitness?

I do different things. It depends on what I feel like. Some core sessions, sometimes I bike or run or jump rope. I like to mix it up. That's what I enjoy most -- being able to make it up as I go along. However, I don't do unusual things. I'm always thinking about not getting injured, so I don't want to do anything risky or dangerous.

What body challenges do you face?

The back, foot and wrist injuries that I've had in my career are a major challenge. The more you play, the more it takes out of you and the longer it takes to recover. When I was younger, I didn't get injured as much, so it's become tougher to stay healthy.

We put a lot of stress on our bodies. So you have to implement injury prevention workouts, instead of just killing yourself. I've learned to replace heavy weights with bands and use only my body weight or the Pilates ball. Also, I have structural problems with my feet. When I had my foot surgery, they found I had two flexors on my foot. When I take off my shoes after a match, I can hardly walk; my feet are stiff for a good 10 to 15 minutes. I have to wear special orthotics and do some special recovery sessions before I'm ready to go out on the court.

Everyone has to overcome something. You won't find any professional athlete who doesn't feel pain somewhere. It's part of our job, part of our lives. You just accept it.

Do you have any bad habits?

As an athlete I shouldn't be drinking coffee, but I do sometimes. Caffeine is not good because you can get dehydrated. It just shouldn't be in your nutrition plan ... but I do like it.

-- Interview by Morty Ain

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Vera Zvonareva

Ranked No. 3 on the women's tennis tour
  • Age

    27

  • Body stats

    5-foot-7, 130 pounds

  • Birthplace

    Moscow, Russia

  • Career highlight

    Took home the bronze at the 2008 Olympics; has won 12 WTA Tour singles titles.

  • Who knew?

    Her mother played field hockey and won a bronze medal at the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

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Vera Zvonareva poses for ESPN The Mag Body Issue