ESPN the Magazine’s 2014 Body Issue Released [Gallery]

The sixth annual edition of ESPN The Magazine’s ‘The Body Issue’ will feature 22 athletes posing nude, including Venus Williams, Michael Phelps, Marshawn Lynch, Prince Fielder and Serge Ibaka.

  • Nigel Sylvester. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Nigel Sylvester. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Danyelle Nicole Wolf. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Danyelle Nicole Wolf. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Serge Ibaka. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Serge Ibaka. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Venus Williams. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Venus Williams. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Venus Williams. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Venus Williams. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Marshawn Lynch. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Marshawn Lynch. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Jamie Anderson. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Jamie Anderson. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Prince Fielder. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Prince Fielder. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Michael Phelps. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Michael Phelps. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.
  • Jamie Anderson. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.Jamie Anderson. Photo: ESPN Magazine Body Issue.

ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, which will hits newsstands until July 11, celebrates all athletic forms by taking all of the clothes off some of the world’s most famous athletes.

The sixth edition of the magazine featuring some of the most influential athletes including Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Oklahoma City Thunder basketball player Serge Ibaka and tennis superstar Venus Williams.

“We somehow manage to raise the bar each year,” ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief Chad Millman said in a statement. “This year’s collection of exceptional athletes and stunning photography showcases an array of sports and body types. It inhabits our mission to pay tribute to these athletes’ bodies and all they are capable of.”

For the gorgeous 34-year-old tennis champ, Venus Williams, it was her first ever naked photoshoot. The former world number one tennis ace stripped off to reveal the inspiring results of her daily workouts and healthy living regime.

“It didn’t dawn on me until right when I walked on set that I would have to be without clothes,” Williams told the mag.

“If I would have thought about it before, there may have been a little less of a chance.” The cover girl is not the first Williams family member to pose nude for ESPN—younger sister Serena Williams posed naked for the magazine back in 2009.

Michael Phelps, Amy Purdy and Tomas Berdych were among the athletes who also stripped for the 2014 issue. Muscular Phelps, 29, who came out of retirement in April 2014, wears goggles and shows off his Speedo tan line on his cover of the Body Issue.

“I got fat and out of shape,” Phelps said of his retirement figure. “It was hard because I had always eaten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. I would always be like, ‘All right, I’ll go work out,’ and I would never ever go. Sure enough, 25 pounds later, I was still saying the same thing. That was just part of my learning process.”

One of the surprises was Texas Rangers star Prince Fielder, who shared about his athletic prowess and the grief he gets for his size: “A lot of people probably think I’m not athletic or don’t even try to work out or whatever, but I do. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean you can’t be an athlete.”

He continued: “And just because you work out doesn’t mean you’re going to have a 12-pack. I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.”

In an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, via ESPN.com, the Seattle Seahawks star, Marshawn Lynch, said: “I got to show some love for the fat backs.”

“Don’t matter if we don’t get love, as long as I give mine. Even though I get butt-a-naked, I’m still gonna let my body do the talking for me. I’m cool with my body, I love my body. I wouldn’t trade it for no other body.”

Last year’s Body Issue featured 21 athletes, including baseball player Matt Harvey, Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and former Vancouver Canuck’s hockey player Ryan Kesler.

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