Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tennis Star, Not Ashamed of Jesus, Is Also Not Ashamed to Drop Her Clothes

By Kathy Schiffer, 
Ave Maria Radio

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?


  1. What do I think? I think what she is "encouraging" is not what she naively intends, if she's being sincere at all. Saying the photos are not "meant" to be immoral but to show off all of the hard work she has done to keep her body in fine shape isn't exactly winning me over either. I hope there are strong, faithful Catholics helping her direct her future. I am guessing she has been under an extreme amount of peer pressure since professing she's "not ashamed of Jesus." Everyone craving or stumbling into the limelight ought to be shrewd as serpents and gentle as doves if their faith matters. Free will is a gift.

  2. What stands out to me is that she has been much gentler in her response than Father Mark Dziewiecki was in his complaint. Think about it. She doesn't mention the Church at all in her explanation. She made no wisecrack about Youth Crusade or its standards. Nor is she playing the martyr here. Agree with her or not, she's the one taking the high road. I can understand the whole idea of trying to protect the moral lives of young people (something we're VERY sensitive to these days), but this could have been handled with a bit more wisdom.

  3. Growing up Protestant, I try hard to not be too "Puritan" about nudity since converting to Catholicism, because in the Calvinist world any nudity is "dirty". So, I want to take her intentions as genuine - she saw herself as wanting to show off a fit physique. Having said that, I still think this is scandalous because secular people will just see a hot naked girl (one that is coincidentally handling two tennis balls, which I think was something the photographer meant to be suggestive and provocative). I don't think she was trying to be dirty or pornographic, but it was well within the right of the organization to attempt avoiding scandal.

  4. I think she is a typical Catholic of this age -- a knucklehead without the brains to cross the street and chew gum at the same time.

    And I blame the Church and its lack of catechism in the last 200 years for creating so many vapid and thoughtless persons who claim the name of Catholic.

    Lord help us!

    1. Well thank God there are TRUE Catholic heroes like you here to save the day and show the rest of us how it's done.

  5. Michael, from the quote above, I'm not sure why you are so incensed by the priest's reaction. I think this athlete has deluded herself. She could have shown off her physique without getting completely naked. Yes, the human body is a beautiful sight, but that doesn't mean that it needs to be displayed in a commercial venue for ALL to see.