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?