This story was written by Brittany Talarico and originally appeared on PEOPLE.com.
Serena Williams returns to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue this year, and her suits are sexier than ever. The tennis superstar shows off her jaw-dropping curves and totally aces her bikini style in the magazine, and she shared a behind-the-scenes look at her shoot in the video above.A highlight for Serena? It was her first time wearing a thong, and she braved the situation with total confidence.”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,” she shares in the exclusive SI video clip. “The thong is perfect, it really made me feel comfortable. I’m officially a thong girl now!”
Serena added that every suit was “better than the last,” and she was a huge fan of the modern, high-cut blue one-piece.”The lying-down [photos in that suit] came out really well because they almost stretched my body out and made it go with the beautiful background,” she says.
As for the vibe on set, Serena requested “cheesy ’90s songs” so she could “act like the girl in those videos.”One of these sexy video scenes took place at an outdoor shower. Serena wears a red-hot thong bikini and totally let herself get lost in the moment.”The shower scene was amazing, because I also wanted to do something like that,” she reveals. “I’ve always wanted to let go — let my hair [get] wet, let my face [get] 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.”
Swimsuit by American Apparel.
Serena also is proud to be on part of this year’s body diverse issue and hopes to inspire women to embrace their curves.”I want people to come away with the fact that it’s okay to be comfortable in your body,” she shares. “I’m not a size two. It’s okay to look good and feel good and I’m strong. It’s okay 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.”