Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych have made headlines for something other than what they have done on the tennis court during the Wimbledon fortnight.
While both players are better known for their tennis skills than their modelling ability, they have shocked readers of ESPN magazine by posing in naked photoshoots.
The women’s world number 31 and the men’s world number six are both appearing in the magazine’s 'body issue'. Williams is not hiding anything from the public, and that included opening up about her recent health problems.
The American is currently battling against Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder which has affected her moisture-producing glands, and it has left the seven-time Grand Slam winner struggling for fitness and form as her ranking has fallen.
She told the magazine: “In the past, I would train until I died. Now, because of Sjogren's syndrome, I have to be careful. If I train too hard, then I won't be able to do anything the next day. There would be times when I'd park my car at home and I fell asleep behind the wheel because I was so tired.
“It's a balance between pushing myself as much as I can and being reasonable about what I can achieve and what my body will tolerate."
Grand Slam trouble
The illness caused the 34-year-old to miss six months of action across 2011 and 2012, and she has not made it beyond the third round of a Grand Slam since reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2011.
The three-time Olympic gold medallist is also a five-time champion at Wimbledon, with her last title being won in 2008, where she defeated her sister Serena in the final.
Berdych is the second male player to pose for the Body Issue of the magazine, after America’s John Isner was featured in 2013, and the 28-year-old has spoken to the magazine about the intricacies of grass court tennis.
The Czech has enjoyed success himself at SW19, as he reached what remains his only Grand Slam final at the grass court tournament in 2010, where he was beaten by Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
It would seem that they have not been distracted from their day jobs, as both progressed in their opening matches at Wimbledon on Monday.
First Round victories
Willliams, seeded 30th, had to dig deep to beat Spain’s Maria Teresa Torro-Flor 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 on Court two, with a first serve win percentage of 89% being crucial in carrying her into the last 64, and she will face Kurumi Nara of Japan on Wednesday, and she could play 2011 champion Petra Kvitova in the third round if she progresses.
Berdych made his way to the second round earlier in the day on the same court, as he came back from a set down to beat Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3.
Next up for the sixth seed will be Australia’s Bernard Tomic as he aims to make it through to the last 32.
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