Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska is upset and surprised about the negative reaction in her home country after posing nude for ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue.”
The world No. 4, who was photographed naked while sitting beside a swimming pool filled with tennis balls, came under fire in her largely Catholic country, with priests and a Catholic youth group calling her behavior immoral.
“I was little disappointed,” Radwanska said at the Bank of the West Classic, where she is the top seed. “I was really surprised about everything that happened afterwards. The Catholics reacted like I did a photo shoot for a men’s magazine. I was surprised because they didn’t even know what exactly the photo shoot was.”
Radwanska, whose arms and positioning in the photo cover her private areas, is one of 21 athletes that appear nude in the annual issue that showcases the physiques of athletes, including a cover photo of 77-year-old golfer Gary Player.
Three days ago, Radwanska took to Facebook to defend herself. She said she made the decision because “the press and subject in Poland was huge. It was just to show the people what the magazine actually was.”
On Facebook, Radwanska said that the pictures were not meant to cause offense and that “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,” she said. “I agreed to participate to help encourage young people, and especially girls, to exercise, stay in shape and be healthy.”
The 24-year-old Radwanska added that she is no longer reeling from her defeat to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier this month.
The Pole was the highest seed remaining in the tournament at that point and, had she won the match, would have faced eventual champion Marion Bartoli in the final, who she has a 7-0 record against.
Radwanska, who has yet to win a Grand Slam, said she grew exhausted late in the match because she had played three marathon matches prior to the semi-finals.
“It was a huge chance this year,” she said. “Definitely, I had a chance to win a Grand Slam. It’s always disappointing and of course I was sad that I didn’t use the opportunity that I had, but I wasn’t 100 percent fit. I wanted to get to the balls and my legs were just staying in one spot. I couldn’t really move.”
In the first round on Monday, American teenager Madison Keys beat No. 8 seed Magalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-2.
Keys won 70 percent of her first-serve points and beat Rybarikova for the second time in three matches.
Sorana Cirstea, the only other seeded player appearing on the opening day, beat Ayumi Morita 6-2, 6-2.
Cirstea, seeded fifth, played a clean match with few unforced errors and no double faults.
In other first-round matches, Olga Govortsova of Belarus defeated Germany’s Julia Goerges, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2; Italy’s Francesca Schiavone topped Mallory Burdette of the US 7-5, 6-3; and Sweden’s Stefanie Voegele bettered wild-card Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 6-4, 6-0.
Second seed Donna Vekic of Croatia advanced to the second round of the Baku Cup on Monday by winning 6-1, 6-0 against local favorite Nazrin Jafarova.
Vekic converted five of six break points, while Jafarova won only 16 points in the match.
Fourth seed Alexandra Cadantu of Romania rallied past Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.
In other first-round matches, Slovenia’s Tadeja Majeric beat fifth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4, while Ons Jabeur of Tunisia defeated Daria Gavrilova of Russia 6-4, 6-0.