For most of her life, Maria Sharapova has thrived on routine. As a retired tennis pro who played the sport for 28 years, being ultra-disciplined in training and recovery helped her accomplish major goals, like being ranked number one in the world and winning five Grand Slam titles.
When she became a first-time mom in the summer of 2022, Sharapova, 36, continued to lean on a consistent, albeit more flexible, mindset to achieve another goal—this time, to be her best self for her son, Theodore. “All those lessons I’ve gained during my career, I’ve really applied into this next chapter,” she tells SELF.
One, in particular, was the importance of consistency. For example, in her son’s newborn days, Sharapova dialed in the timing of his feeds and tried to match his nap schedule with her own during the day, which helped her log enough cumulative rest despite interrupted nighttime sleep. She was also diligent in maintaining her milk supply, and regularly woke up in the middle of the night to pump.
While welcoming a new baby has brought on a ton of change for the Unstoppable author, Sharapova says being routine-oriented with some tried-and-true self-care practices has enhanced her approach to motherhood. “Many people think it’s all about the baby, but in order for your baby to feel their best, you also have to take care of yourself,” she says
During a photoshoot near her home in Los Angeles, Sharapova caught up with SELF to share the ways she makes self-care a priority while navigating her new role as a mom. Here’s what she’s learned so far.
Never underestimate the benefits of the basics.
For Sharapova, sleep and hydration are vital, especially when she’s not feeling her best amid the constant demands of feedings and diaper changes.
“As a new mom, it’s very common to forget about yourself because you have this new being to take care of,” she says. “[The basics] are such a good refresher and they’re simple, but you need to be consistent in order to have results.”
Take sleep, for instance. As Theodore approaches his first birthday, he’s now snoozing through the night—and she no longer has to wake up at random hours to pump. But caring for a baby is exhausting in general, so she’ll often lie down for a short nap while Theodore sleeps, similar to her previous routine on the pro circuit after tough training sessions.
But she doesn’t pressure herself to actually fall asleep: She’ll simply take the time to rest, put down her phone, and enjoy the calm, quiet space—a reprieve that provides a “great boost of energy,” she says.
Then there’s hydration. Especially in the first few months after giving birth, Sharapova prioritized drinking enough water as part of the postpartum healing process. “You’re giving your body a chance to replenish,” she says.
That’s why Sharapova, an Evian ambassador, always has a water bottle nearby—she needs easy access to fluids throughout the day. “There’s always a bottle of milk for the baby, and there’s a bottle of water for Mom,” she says.
Aim for a gradual, consistent workout and recovery routine.
After the massive effort of childbirth, Sharapova wanted to give her body the time it needed to heal, so she took her return to fitness slowly. When Theodore was about six months old, she began a gradual buildup to strength training.
Now, she says, she works out two to three times each week for an hour at a time, and mixes it up. For at-home sessions, she loves Tony Horton’s workouts on Tonal. “They’re usually only 30 minutes long, as that’s the only time I’ve had recently, but punchy and very fun,” she says. For rotational core exercises and single-leg squats, she uses a physio ball.
Getting outdoors is also crucial for her, and she often goes on hikes and long walks with hand weights while enjoying the vast network of trails in the Los Angeles area. “I’ll do some silly biceps curls while I’m walking, and the weight is not heavy, but at least I’m moving,” Sharapova says. “It feels really good on the body.”
Sometimes Theodore joins her on her walks, which she now calls her favorite form of exercise. “He observes everything,” she says. “You see it in their eyes, like wow, this bird or this leaf. They’re discovering things in life for the first time.”
Every now and then, Sharapova will also sneak in a virtual class from Ballet Beautiful, a ballet-inspired workout series, while Theodore does tummy time on the mat next to her. “You just kind of get it done whenever you can,” she says.
Of course, Sharapova understands the importance of recovery, and tries to carve out time for it. Depending on the baby’s schedule, sometimes it’s in the form of a nap, and other times it involves supportive tools, like her wireless compression boots from Therabody, which help generate blood circulation in her legs after intense strength training workouts.
Find the moments to let your mind chill.
Always an early riser, Sharapova enjoys scheduling time for herself in the mornings before the rest of the family wakes up.
After she brews a cup of coffee, she reads a few pages from a book—currently, she’s switching between Parent Nation and Quiet. Sharapova also writes in her journal, where she likes to jot down to-do lists, musings, or reflections on things that inspire her. “There’s something very strong about thinking of something and making it official on a piece of paper,” she says. “I’ve always believed in the power of that.”
It all factors into Sharapova’s hope for fellow moms navigating the highs and lows of motherhood. “Be kind to yourself,” she says. “Knowing that you’re taking care of someone else, I think you always do a better job when you are taken care of. The more you feel rejuvenated and replenished and your body and mind are in the right place, the more that projects onto the people around you.”