From Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, Winter 2003: A New Racket: Serena Williams proves she’s also No. 1 in a two piece

Photographs by Walter Iooss Jr.

She acts. She designs clothes. She tries and tries and tries to teach herself new languages. And oh, yeah, she has been known to pick up a tennis racket and beat the stuffing out of every player on the WTA Tour. Now Serena Williams can add “swimsuit model” to her dossier. When it was suggested that she appear in this issue, the decision was a no-brainer for swimsuit editor Diane Smith. Serena is, after all, the most-recognized female athlete on the planet, and, as demonstrated when she wore that memorable “cat suit” at the U.S. Open, her physical bona fides are impeachable. So at 6 a.m., as full of bounce as a new can of tennis balls, she met Walter Iooss Jr. in the lobby of Miami’s Nash Hotel, then spent the day posing in a studio and on a beach. “It was clear she wasn’t going to look like the typical swimsuit model,” says Iooss. “But what she has is active beauty, a combination of femininity and athleticism.”