No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska responded Friday to the controversy in her native Poland about her nude photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine‘s Body Issue. A Catholic youth group dropped her as an ambassador this week for her “immoral behavior” in posing for a naked but not explicit picture by a pool full of tennis balls.
In a statement posted in both English and Polish on her official Facebook page, Radwanska did not apologize for the magazine shoot. Instead, she provided context.
“For those that are not familiar with the magazine, ESPN The Body Issue is a celebration of the beauty of the bodies of the best athletes in the world,” the statement read. “It includes both men and women of all ages and all shapes and sizes. Other athletes photographed include San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 77-year-old golf legend Gary Player, and Olympic volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings — during and after her pregnancy. My tennis colleagues Serena Williams, Daniela Hantuchova and Vera Zvonareva have all participated in the past.
“The pictures are certainly not meant to cause offense and to brand them as immoral clearly does not take into account the context of the magazine. Moreover, they do not contain any explicit imagery whatsoever. I train extremely hard to keep my body in shape and that’s what the article and the magazine is all about. If you read the interview, it only discusses my job as an athlete and what I have to do physically to be able to participate at the highest level of sport.”
Radwanska also denied doing the shoot for money.
“It has been suggested by some members of the press (among others) that I was paid for the photo shoot,” she said. “This is absolutely not the case. Neither I nor any of the other athletes were paid. I agreed to participate to help encourage young people, and especially girls, to exercise, stay in shape and be healthy.”
John Isner was the other tennis player who posed for the issue. He hasn’t dealt with criticism but rather ribbing, from the likes of Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish.
“I like to think those guys wished they were in the magazine,” Isner joked. “Those guys are always giving me crap for anything, let alone posing half-naked in a magazine. So I knew I was going to get some flak from them, but it’s all in good fun.”
Isner said he deliberated before agreeing to be photographed.
“I’d seen the magazine in the past,” he said. “I never came away thinking that any of those photos were too racy. I just thought it would be pretty cool to do and, on top of that, shine a positive light on our sport — [to show] that our guys certainly aren’t built like football players but we are in very good shape.”