Venus, Berdych in Mag's Body Issue

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and 2013 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tomas Berdych will be featured in this year's Body Issue, ESPN The Magazine announced Monday.

Both are in London as first-round play begins at the All England Club.

In addition to stripping down for the issue, Williams exposes harrowing new details about her ongoing battle with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that, according to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, causes white blood cells to attack a person's moisture-producing glands.

"At my worst point, I wasn't able to play tennis at all," says Williams. "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."

Williams, who was forced to stop playing for more than six months in 2011-12 because of the illness, reveals how she was able to work her way back up the rankings.

"Because of Sjogren's syndrome, I have to be careful," she says. "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, ranked No. 6 in the ATP, becomes only the second ATP player to pose for The Body Issue, following in John Isner's footsteps last year. The two faced off in the fourth round at the French Open in June, when Berdych won in straight sets.

Berdych talked to ESPN The Magazine's Morty Ain about how his body reacts to the move from clay to grass.

"The grass is a very big challenge for me," Berdych 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."

Regardless, Berdych is optimistic about his prospects.

"My first Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon," he says, "so I have no complaints about the grass."

ESPN The Magazine's sixth annual Body Issue is on newsstands July 11. A complete list of athletes to be featured in this year's edition will be announced Wednesday on

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