Tennis Star, Not Ashamed of Jesus, Is Also Not Ashamed to Drop Her Clothes

In 2011 Agnieszka Radwanska, Polish tennis star who is ranked fourth in the world, served as ambassador for a Catholic youth group’s campaign, “I’m not ashamed of Jesus.”  In a video produced by the group Agnieszka posed on the tennis court with the name of Jesus (“Jezus”) written in tennis balls.

Two years later, the star posed again—this time for Wprost, one of Poland’s most popular news magazines—sitting poolside surrounded by tennis balls.  This time, though, something was missing:  her clothing.

Following publication of the nude photos in Wprost and in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, the Polish youth group “Youth Crusade” dropped Agnieszka as an ambassador, citing her “immoral behavior.”

Father Mark Dziewiecki, speaking on behalf of Youth Crusade, said,

“It’s a shame that someone who has declared their love for Jesus is now promoting the mentality of men looking at a woman as a thing rather than a child of God worthy of respect and love.  If she meets a man who she can truly love and establish a happy family and raise Catholic children, then she would probably have to hide these pictures from relatives.”

Agnieszka Radwanska, however, did not see the photo shoot in the same way.  In a post published Friday, July 19, on her Facebook page, she explained why she had agreed to pose nude:

“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. 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.

It has been suggested by some members of the press (among others) that I was paid for the photo shoot. 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.”

What do you think?

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  • You can rationalize away any immoral behavior.

  • Abe Rosenzweig

    Nothing says evil like a naked body!

    • AaronNA

      So that’s why God made us to live naked in the Garden of Eden before the fall?

      • Abe Rosenzweig

        Exactly, bro.

        • Fr. Denis Lemieux

          The evil is not in the body, which is created by God and is very good. The evil is in the human soul, which is prone to lust, to the reduction of the ‘other’ as a mere object of desire. That is why public nudity is evil – it is a spiritual problem.

      • Ann Margaret Lewis

        And when they knew the difference between good and evil…they put clothes on. Nuff said.

  • ESPN Reader

    It’s not within my remit to make a judgement call on Miss Agnieszka’s motives or indeed her character. May she find true peace whatever she decides to do. I would have thought Father Mark Dziewiecki had better things to do. Confession, perhaps.

    • Ann Margaret Lewis

      The priest is doing his job, like any father should. He is her spiritual father whether she recognizes it or not, and any father should be appalled at his daughter letting it all hang out for men to ogle at. She has made herself into a simple piece of meat.

      As for confession, yes, I’m sure he spends a lot of time there. Perhaps she should visit him sometime.

    • guest

      If the behavior is there out in the open (as her picture is), it’s not judging. It’s observing. The “don’t judge” excuse is a lame one. . .

    • Biff Spiff

      What, exactly do you think the job of a priest is?

  • Pecos2

    A lovely young woman who will come to regret this picture. Fame and attention are drugs that lead one into every increasing self worship.

    She tells herself that she is setting a good example for young girls, that’s the worst part.

    • ESPN Reader

      Perhaps, but that doesn’t give Fr. Anybody the right to disrespect her person. Unthinkable that Pope Francis would behave in this way.

      • Ann Margaret Lewis

        He wasn’t “disrespecting” her…he is correcting her. As any father should.

  • Poor judgement. Perhaps in time she will be taken back as ambassador. Her explanation seems reasonable, especially since she wasn’t paid for the pictures. Let’s give her another chance.

    • ESPN Reader

      Why not just keep her in your silent prayers? Light a candle, perhaps? Perhaps the just judge will have mercy on you when he appears. Don’t you know that you will be judged by the same yardstick that you judge others.

      • Yes, measure for measure. Good idea. I will pray for her.

      • Ann Margaret Lewis

        Definitely praying for her. And yes, I know I’ll be judged and I know that I deserve mercy more than most. Doesn’t mean that we should ignore poor choices.

  • Mother of Pearl

    What do I think? I think that Agnieszka Radwanska is an excellent tennis player who has worked hard to be able to play as well as she does and her body is in such great shape because she has trained so much.

    As such, she is a far better example for young girls than a number of young women who are primarily famous for being famous, particularly as many of them have acquired their “sexy” shapes through eating disorders and/or cosmetic surgery. Girls need to be encouraged to develop healthy bodies as Agnieszka has done. Far too often, schools — and parents — still emphasize sports for boys more than for girls.

    I also think that some Catholics need to remember what Jesus said before they pick up even a small stone to throw at another Christian.

    • Ann Margaret Lewis

      He also said to the woman about to be stoned: “go and sin no more.”

  • tcstrenge

    You don’t have to pose nude to encourage young women; that is an excuse. One can tell the shape she’s in by her little tennis outfits. As a mother of 4 girls, I’m so grateful Father had the courage to address this sad situation; he didn’t condemn her, but pointed out what she did was wrong. If she had knowledge of her great dignity as a woman, she would not have done this. Our Lady of Czestochowa, please intercede for this young woman.

  • Dorothy Pilarski

    I really can’t help but wonder what her parents thought about the photo shoot. If she comes from devout family, it certainly could have alienated her parents. Certainly for that reason alone, it would be best to stay clear of this kind of opportunity. Bottom line, this really is attention seeking behavior. It has given her a tremendous amount of publicity. If that’s what she wanted, that’s what she has gotten. I doubt one young girl has taken to becoming more athletic as a result of her decision.

  • kritikl

    You are so wonderful Agnieszka Radwanska.