Tennis legend and entrepreneur Venus Williams—a seven-time Grand Slam Champion and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist—launched vegan protein company Happy Viking. Williams partnered with beverage company Dyla Brands, makers of Stur Drink Mixes & FORTO Coffee, to develop Happy Viking. The drinks boast 20 grams of protein, including all nine essential amino acids. The shakes are also rich in plant-based sources of omega fatty acids, hailing from sunflower oil.
Williams told publication VegNews that the inspiration behind the Happy Viking name comes from her own warrior mentality, on and off the court, and about helping others to “find their inner viking” through plant-based nutrition. In 2011, Williams was diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that caused her to suffer extreme fatigue and joint pain, which forced her to pull out of the 2011 US Open. With the help of doctors and her sister, fellow tennis champion Serena Williams, the athlete transitioned to a plant-based diet to alleviate symptoms of the chronic illness which helped her return to the court within one year to win multiple titles. “When I first started eating plant-based, it was for health reasons. I couldn’t play tennis. I was thrown in the lifestyle by my wonderful sister Serena,” Williams said. “I learned a lot about it. A plant-based lifestyle is what you need for optimal health and aging well.”
A nutritionally complete shake wasn’t enough for Williams. She set out to create the world’s best tasting plant-based protein shake. With the help of top nutritionists and dieticians, Williams spent a year, refueling her body and creating what would become the foundation for Happy Viking. “I created Happy Viking because I want other people to have healthy, effective, and delicious options to fuel their bodies so they can strive towards being their best self in every aspect of their life,” she says.
Happy Viking is not Williams’s first business endeavor. She has spent years quietly building up a small business empire. The famously fashionable tennis pro has a 13-year-old clothing and skincare line, EleVen by Venus Williams, as well as V Starr Interiors, a commercial and residential interior design firm in West Palm Beach, Florida.