Agnieszka Radwanska in ESPN Body Issue 2013: Is She Becoming Tennis' Bad Girl?
Is all publicity really good publicity? Agnieszka Radwanska sure hopes so.
Radwanska, the No. 4 player in the WTA, left Wimbledon bitter after a three-set loss to Sabine Lisicki in the semifinals. But she was all smiles earlier this week when her nude photos in the Body Issue of ESPN the Magazine surfaced.
Radwanska joined John Isner as the tennis stars represented in the Body Issue, which celebrates athletes' bodies by having them pose nude. Though the issue is often lauded as being tasteful, that doesn't mean it won't create some controversy.
In fact, according to Matthew Day of The Telegraph, in her conservative country of Poland, she was publicly criticized by Father Marek Dziewiecki, a senior Catholic priest, for her decision to pose for the magazine:
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.
This isn't the first time this year that Radwanska has been at the center of controversy.
After her dramatic semifinal against Lisicki, Radwanska was widely reprimanded for her incredibly brief post-match handshake. Many thought that her inability to sincerely congratulate Lisicki was a poor display of sportsmanship.
And earlier this year, after a Fed Cup match, a video of her curt post-match press conference went viral. Once again, her attitude took center stage.
Agnieszka Radwanska's Shortest press conference ever - FedCup 2013 http://t.co/f96FzEmH Aga was kinda rude! wow— Asma (@Asmakimi) February 9, 2013
But her voiced opinions and snippets of attitude have never been a deterrent to fans—she won the WTA Fan Favorite Award in both 2011 and 2012 and has a very popular Facebook page.
In a tennis world that is now largely run by PR departments, it's refreshing for fans to get an insider's glimpse into the mind of a star player. After all, it's natural to have days when you're not in the mood to talk to the press, or when you're too disappointed after a loss to be cordial, or when you don't support everything your colleagues do.
And while Radwanska shows off her spunk and opinions from time to time, she's a consummate professional in a lot of ways. She's not caught out late at the clubs, getting in trouble with the law or even verbally abusing umpires on the court. She takes her job as a tennis professional very seriously and has managed to stay in the top five for over a year.
Her creativity on and off the court are her biggest strengths, and she knows that she has to stay true to herself to succeed. She confirmed that in her Body Issue interview, even showing off her sense of humor:
The mental side of tennis makes up a large part of success or failure. You can see how physical some of the girls are today. It's no secret that I'm not as strong and powerful as some of the girls in the top five, but I try to stay lean and make up for it with creativity on the court. Creative tennis comes naturally to me; you can't really practice or learn it. When I'm playing a more powerful opponent, I try to use the pace of the opponent's ball rather than generate my own. If Serena's serving, I just hold the racket as tight as I can so it doesn't fly away!
Radwanska hopes to one day walk away from Wimbledon with the Venus Rosewater Dish in her hand, and to do that she's going to have to keep up the individuality and attitude that have given her an edge over stiff competition on the circuit.
While that might get her in some hot water and have people talking about her as a "bad girl" along the way, that's a risk she's willing to take.
If she's proven anything over the past few weeks, it's that she's not afraid of a little exposure.
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