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Issue 01

SERENA
GUTHRIE MBE

Club71 - Serena Guthrie A BW.jpg

PHOTOGRAPHY BY AMY MAIDMENT

WORDS BY VICTORIA McINTYRE

MAKE-UP & HAIR BY LEANNA BIGGS

Serena is a netball icon. She has dominated the middle third of netball courts all over England, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

A Commonwealth gold medalist, captain of the England Roses and Flyhawk ambassador, she has performed at the highest level for her entire playing career, using her platform to increase the profile of netball, to raise awareness of charities, and represents brands she believes in.

A leader on and off the court, Serena has proactively cultivated balance through her life. She credits this approach with the longevity of her playing career, her preparation for motherhood and her subsequent retirement from the game.

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You’ve spoken very publicly about the importance of maintaining balance in your life. Can you explain what that means to you?

As someone who played netball for around 15 years at top level, it can become your whole life. I think it can be really easy to get completely consumed in just one discipline. So for me, balance is about being able to tap into other parts of your personality, other things that you’re interested in, other passions. We all have them, it’s just that elite sport forces you to focus on one discipline and give that a good go, which is amazing. At the same time, you have to avoid getting lost or overly caught up in what you do. Having balance provides a level of perspective in your life. When I lose a netball game, getting out into nature helps me realise that, yes, it’s a big deal but it’s not everything. I think that’s been a big part of my longevity as a player, not getting too caught up in the large moments and the big pressure moments and understanding that there’s still a world outside of netball. 

Does everyone in your team have the same approach, or are you in the minority?

I’m always trying to put that message across consistently. I always get asked ‘how have you been able to stay and compete at top level for such a long time?’ Everyone is different, my recipe might be different to somebody else’s, and that’s absolutely fine. I do find that especially in elite sports, retiring and changing who you are after you’ve been at top level for a long time, it’s really quite tough. That’s why I’m really hot on the whole balance, and perspective, and finding out who you are, and that identity piece. It’s hard enough even when you do know all those things. I feel quite lucky to be transitioning in a really good space into my next chapter, but it’s still going to take some adjustment for me. It could take me a few years to find out what it means to go to the gym recreationally and not be pushing yourself at 110%. There are all these subtleties that get engrained into you as an elite athlete that you don’t even realise and recognise them until you’re out of the sport and I think that’s when the balance piece can really creep up on you. You start to realise, ‘I haven’t been doing these things, I haven’t been tapping into these other areas of myself’ and it’s super important. I’m only 32 and I’m retiring from sport. I want to be attractive to businesses, for work opportunities, so it all really matters. That’s why for me, it’s so important to look at it ahead of time. If somebody doesn’t always agree with what I’m saying or the message I’m putting out there, that’s completely fine.

Read Serena's full interview in Issue 01 of Club71

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