(June 23, 2014) Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and 2010 Wimbledon finalist, No 6 Tomas Berdych, will be featured in this year’s The Body Issue by ESPN The Magazine.
In addition to posing nude for the issue, Williams exposes harrowing new details about her ongoing battle with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. “At my worst point, I wasn’t able to play tennis at all,” says Williams. “Just the whole quality of my life was compromised. You are so tired it hurts. You have to accept that you’re never going to be 100%.”
Williams, who was forced to stop playing for just over six months because of the illness, reveals how she was able to work her way back up the rankings. “Because of Sjogren’s syndrome, I have to be careful,” says Williams. “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.”
Berdych becomes only the second ATP player to pose for The Body Issue, following in John Isner’s footsteps last year. Looking towards Wimbledon, the 6-foot-5 ace opens up about how this body reacts to the move from clay to grass. “The grass is a very big challenge for me,” Berdych told ESPN The Magazine reporter Morty Ain. “There are these low bounces and different movements, which is very difficult especially for my height and weight. I start to feel it in the lower back and the lower hamstring.” Regardless, Berdych is optimistic about his prospects. “My first Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon,” he says, “so I have no complaints about the grass.”