Fitness trainer Mackie Shilstone recalls the drastic measures he took to get Serena Williams back on track after multiple health scares and injuries.
We at The DigiSpot share highlights from the recently launched podcast from Diversion Podcasts and iHeartMedia, titled “The GOAT: Serena”, which features tennis trailblazers Chanda Rubin and Zina Garrison as they delve into the remarkable career of Serena Williams and her path to becoming one of the greatest athletes of all time.
On this week’s episode on “The GOAT: Serena”, Rubin and Zina sit down with Serena’s fitness trainer Mackie Shilstone and 18-time Grand Slam champion, Martina Navratilova as they discuss Serena’s strength, determination, and what it takes to maintain career longevity as a professional tennis player.
Later in the episode, Shilstone recalls the drastic measures he took to get Serena back in shape after devastating health scares which included making her jump in a pool with heavy gallon bleach bottles and running 72 sprints back and forth.
- Mackie Shilstone on what made him stick by her side as a fitness coach through all of the early miscues [23:18 – 24:15]: “I gave her every opportunity to quit and beat her down. She says, Mackey, they’ll have to drag me out. And I think what showed me everything because I will test you what I do, which is very scary. Seriously. And I saw in her this ability to rise above her weaknesses, her fatigue, fatigue makes cowards of us all. And I told Serena, ‘Serena, we’ve got to bring your opponent to the fatigue threshold we’ve got, and you’ve got to survive to do that.’ And at that point that’s only 10% margin and that’s where you win because your mind is stronger, but both of you have to be at a broken point. And then there will be one person to survive. And I said, and that’s what we’re going to work to.”
- Mackie Shilstone on the drastic measures he took to monitor Serena’s heart rate after she suffered a pulmonary embolism [31:26 – 33:04]: “I said, well, we’re going to do something and it’s going to hurt you more than it’s going to hurt me, but it’s going to be the answer. And I said, we’re going to your pool in the back of your house… tell the lady that’s cleaning the house, I want a big bleach bottle, you’re going to become a Navy seal. Cause I’m going to do what I said, we’re going to survive… So I got the bleach bottle, cleaned it out…and said Serena, I’m going to put a heart rate monitor on you and electricity conducts in the water so I’ll see it over on the sidelines. Go out there in the deep end and fill that thing with water, and then raise it above your head and you can’t stop until all the water’s gone and you’re going to bob up and down…I look at it this way, you’re either going to survive or you’ll be down at the bottom of the pool and I’ll have to do CPR on you.”
- Martina Navratilova on chasing tennis immortality and what impresses her most about Serena [41:17 – 41:33]: “What’s most impressive to me is how she won so many majors after she was 30 because it gets harder when you get older. At the same time, she was a relatively young 30 in tennis terms in that she didn’t play that many matches.”