By Gianina Thompson
Updated Aug 27, 2018 @ 4:30 pm
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Ole Jensen - Corbis/Getty Images

The perfect outfit can take time to put together — up to 18 months, if you’re tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

The 28-year-old Danish athlete strategizes every element of her game well before competitions, from her fitness regimen down to the tennis skirt you’ll spot her wearing on the court tomorrow. “It’s all thoroughly planned out, way in advance,” she told InStyle ahead of the US Open, which kicks off today. “I work with Adidas and Stella McCartney, and we have the collection planned out about a year and a half in advance.”

Wozniacki enters the tournament as the women’s no. 2 seed and a perennial fan favorite — plus a model, with best friend Serena Williams, of what camaraderie in the face of rivalry can look like. “I’ve known Serena for a long time, and she’s such a sweet person but a fierce competitor at the same time,” Wozniacki says with a laugh. Their 15-year friendship has put to rest the myth that competing athletes can’t root for one another. “Serena is such an inspiration on and off the court.”

Once the US Open ends, Wozniacki has another outfit to pick out — her wedding gown. After getting engaged to NBA veteran David Lee earlier this year, she had to put her dress hunt on hold to get ready for the court, but Chanel, Stella McCartney, and Victoria Beckham are all in the running, she says.

Here, Wozniacki lays out exactly how she preps for the US Open, what Serena has taught her about success, and what she does when she gets nervous before a big match.

How are you preparing for the US Open?
I prepare for every tournament the exact same way. I have blocks where I’ll go into mega-training mode three to four weeks prior. I’ll hit the gym hard and go twice a day for two hours. I’ll do cardio, lifts and stretching that really pushes me beyond comfort. Then the closer I get to the tournament, I taper down and take it easier so my body is able to peak when it needs to during matches. Otherwise, I’m eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting treatments and massages to keep my body fresh.

Do you get nervous before big competitions?
I get butterflies just like everyone else and have to remind myself that I’m prepared to give it my all. But once I’m on the court and hit my first ball, it dissolves, and then I just go into beast mode.

What makeup or products, if any, do you wear while playing tennis that lasts well?
Honestly, I don’t wear any makeup when I’m playing, but if I do, it’s usually only mascara. Sunscreen is a must since I’m in the sun all day.

Tennis is such an individual sport. How do you handle your female friends in the sport also being your biggest competitors?
As an individual sport, it can get very lonely especially when you have to travel so much. I’ve made friends in the sport where we’ll go to dinner and laugh and talk about other things, and we build that mutual respect to know that on the court we’re out there to win and give it our all.

How did you cultivate a friendship with Serena Williams?
I was about 15 years old and had been in exhibition with her sister, Venus, who I suppose said some kind words about me to Serena because when I went to the Australian Open a few weeks later, Serena came up to me and said, “Oh hey, I saw you play with my sister,” and we just started talking and further bonded a friendship since then. I’ve known Serena for a long time, and she’s such a sweet person but a fierce competitor at the same time.

What have you learned from her?
She stands strong for women’s equality and rights and just about anything she believes in. That in turn has taught me that we can stand up for ourselves, each other, and all girls and women out there collectively with hopes that we keep that cycle going of uplifting one another.

What did your parents — who were also professional athletes — teach you about the game?
They’ve always told me to believe in myself while also working hard and respecting everyone I meet. At a young age, I noticed how some people didn’t always think I was good enough for whatever reasons. But my parents’ words still continue to inspire me that I can do it and I will do it.

You’ve said before that you rarely weigh yourself on a scale. Why is that?
The number on a scale is just a number. I’m an athlete so my body is my weapon. It’s what drives me, and I need to build my body to perform at my very best level where I’m strong, fit, fast, and can bounce back from injury. All of that is more important to me than what I see on the scale. When I eat right and work out, I feel great about myself, and no number is going to take that away from me.

Being engaged to a basketball player, do you and David ever workout together?
We do, and we love it! The training that he’s used to do when he was playing is different than what I’m doing, so for him it’s fun to try new exercises and work different muscles.

Are you two super competitive while working out?
For sure! He is way stronger than me when it comes to lifting, but I beat him in running every time.

What have you learned from David as a fellow athlete?
David is such a professional. He’s so hard-working, and everything is very routine and scheduled. He’s really taught me how to use my time wisely.

You’re focused on the US Open now, but have you decided on a wedding dress yet?
No — it’s still a work in progress.

Any specific designers you’re drawn to for it?
I love timeless, classy looks that have a simplicity to it that you can dress up or dress down. With Stella McCartney, her designs are super feminine, but she’ll put in a special detail or make something that you thought was more of a masculine look and make it very feminine. Chanel is just so timeless and classy, and I love that. I could have bought a skirt from Chanel 15 years ago, and it would still be cute today. And with Victoria Beckham, I love the fit, the materials, and the colors she uses.

What the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
You always have goals for yourself and try to achieve them, but once you get there, you realize it’s not about being no. 1 or winning events. It’s about the journey and the whole process of hard work to get there. That’s what’s meaningful. Obviously, it feels amazing once you reach your goal, but in my opinion, the journey is what makes it so much sweeter.