Serena Williams is appearing in Sports Illustrated’s 2017 Swimsuit Issue and for her, it was an entirely new experience. The tennis champion decided to be extremely daring and opt for a thong bikini for the shoot, the first time she had ever worn one of the racy swimsuits.
“I’ve never worn a thong bikini, so for that to be my first shot was like a shot of espresso for me because I had to wake up immediately,” said Williams in a behind the scenes video from the shoot. “The thong is perfect, it really made me feel comfortable. I’m officially a thong girl now!”
During the photo session, Williams wore a variety of different suits, including a one-piece spandex number, a strappy yellow two piece and even went topless in a pair of peach bikini bottoms. She said that each suit was better than the one before it, but expresses a personal preference for high cut modern one piece swimsuits.
The tennis star was photographed in a variety of locations and poses, including lying on the beach, in the water and in the shower. It was a varied shoot which allowed Williams to try out different looks.
“The shower scene was amazing, because I also wanted to do something like that,” she admitted. “I’ve always wanted to let go—let my hair wet, let my face wet and take a supernatural picture that was strong and beautiful at the same time, and I really feel like we were able to achieve that with that shot.”
Williams wants to send a message with her spread in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, saying, “I want people to come away with the fact that it’s OK to be comfortable in your body,” she expressed. “I’m not a size two. It’s OK to look good and feel good and I’m strong. It’s OK to look strong and to be sexy and to be a woman and to be unbreakable—all those things. I really want to have that influence for people out there that have my body type. I want them to be like, ‘I look good too.’ That’s what I hope for.”