Harkleroad, 23, to appear in Playboy: 'I'm proud of my body'

Updated: May 25, 2008, 10:38 PM ET
Associated Press

PARIS -- Ashley Harkleroad, the 61st-ranked American who lost to Serena Williams 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday in the first round of the French Open, said she posed for the August edition of Playboy magazine.

[+] EnlargeAshley Harkleroad
AP Photo/Christophe EnaAshley Harkleroad, returning a shot Sunday to Serena Williams in a first-round French Open loss, joins a Playboy sisterhood that includes Amanda Beard and Gabrielle Reese.
"I thought about it, and it was something that I did," Harkleroad said after the match. "I'm proud of my body. I was representing a female athlete's body."

The 23-year-old noted other athletes who have appeared in the magazine, including Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard and former volleyball player Gabrielle Reese.

"I'll be the first tennis player ever. That's kind of cool," Harkleroad said.

"There's a few reasons why I did it, but I can't really go into it right now," she added. "But like I said, I really didn't think it was that big of a deal. I'm proud of my body. I stay in shape and try to stay fit."

Williams, an eight-time Grand Slam champion, said she respected Harkleroad's decision to pose for the men's magazine, but ruled out her own pictorial.

"I can't say right now it's in any thought of my mind to be in that mag," Williams said. "But I'm happy for her if that's what she wanted to do. It takes a lot of courage."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press