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Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych pose naked for ESPN's Body Issue

In addition to featuring pictures of both athletes in the nude, the feature will focus on Williams's battle with autoimmune disorder, Sjogren's syndrome and Berdych's body's reaction to grass.
By Veronica Linares   |   June 23, 2014 at 2:52 PM   |   Comments

BRISTOL, Conn., June 23 (UPI) -- Professional tennis players Venus Williams and Tomas Berdych will bare their bodies and souls on the Body Issue 2014, ESPN The Magazine announced Monday.

In addition to featuring pictures of both athletes in the nude, the feature will focus on Williams's battle with autoimmune disorder Sjogren's syndrome and Berdych's body's reaction to grass.

"At my worst point, I wasn't able to play tennis at all," Williams said of her disease, that causes white blood cells to attack a person's moisture-producing glands. "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 percent."

"Because of Sjogren's syndrome, I have to be careful," said the five-time Wimbledon champion. "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's interview also presented a more vulnerable side to the player.

"The grass is a very big challenge for me," Berdych, who is raked No. 6 in the ATP, said. "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."

ESPN The Magazine's sixth annual Body Issue will hit newsstands July 11.

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