Beauty and Strength: ESPN’s The Body Issue

Check out the hottest athletes featured in ESPN's Body Issue.

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Venus Williams, Five-time Wimbledon Champion: "There is never not an answer. For me, that's the solution. If I have to work hard or think hard or just copy somebody else that's doing it better -- whatever it takes, I'm going to find that solution. That's the drive that keeps me going." See more photos at ESPN.com.
3/17
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Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Player: "Winning Defensive Player of the Year. That's it, that's all I think about in my mind. Every time I'm about to give up, I think to myself, "You lost three years in a row Defensive Player of the Year." That's what I am going for. I feel like I have that gift and that talent, I feel like if I keep working and doing what I have been doing, then one day it will happen. I believe it, I really believe it."
4/17
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Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball Player: "Our court was the street. We'd collect a lot of plastic bags that we'd put together and it would become like a basketball and we'd start shooting with it. It was expensive to have a basketball. We'd just hang some basket on the street -- something we could just shoot at where the ball could go in. We used a lot of things -- a tire from a bike. That's how we would play." See more photos at ESPN.com.
5/17
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Michael Phelps, American Swimmer 18-time Olympic Gold Medalist: "Training at altitude, you get twice the work done in half the time. It's not the most enjoyable thing to go through, but I know it's going to help me get to where I need to be faster. So for three weeks here [in Colorado], we're getting six weeks of work done. As much as I don't like coming up here, I know it's going to help me in the long run to get back to where I want to."
6/17
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Marshawn Lynch, American Football running back for the Seattle Seahawks: "I did some training with an MMA coach before last season. The biggest difference was the boxing. You learn not only how to maneuver your weight but use it to your advantage when defenders approach you to try to tackle you -- use their leverage against them and it helps. My stiff-arm has been more effective because of it."
7/17
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Jamie Anderson, 2014 Winter Olympics Women's Slopestyle Gold Medalist: "Of course at the Olympics everyone has like five coaches. I'm the only one doing my own thing. At that moment I'm like, "Maybe I do want a coach?" I did have a coach when I was a kid, but when I was about 14 or 15 I just kind of outgrew it. I just wanted to ride with everyone whenever I wanted and not have any expectations or pressure, just follow my own intuition."
8/17
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Jamie Anderson, 2014 Winter Olympics Women's Slopestyle Gold Medalist: "It brings out a lot of ego. That's the thing that's not totally healthy about competitive snowboarding. It's such a free kind of soul sport. That's why most people do it -- just to get out there. You don't want to see someone winning who is really cocky and full of themselves. That's something I value -- even though I've won a lot of events, I know I'm not the best in the world." See more photos at ESPN.com.
9/17
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Prince Fielder, First Baseman for the Texas Rangers: "You don't have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete. 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. 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."
10/17
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Jimmy Spithill, Australian Yachtsman for Oracle Team USA: "It's not athletic? The guys now who get off the boat look like linebackers. People probably imagine an older, rich guy going out to his boat in a blazer for a nice leisurely sail. It's actually the opposite."
11/17
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Angel McCoughtry, WNBA Basketball Player: "Everyone said that I didn't have a jump shot. So when my father would get off of work, we'd drive to D.C. and work on my game for a couple of hours and then drive all the way back. We'd be driving to gyms at midnight -- to a 24-hour Run N' Shoot -- because in Baltimore there weren't really any gyms open late. I was an early teen when we started doing this, maybe 12 or 13." See more photos at ESPN.com.
12/17
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Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver for the Arizona Cardinals: "Chess is a lot of fun for me. Football is a physical game, and in chess you can just beat someone mentally -- you outwit somebody, outmaneuver them, think ahead of them." See more photos at ESPN.com.
13/17
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Bernard Hopkins, US Boxer Light-Heavyweight World Champion: "There is no secret. It's more of a discipline, more of a lifestyle. When someone sees me and they don't know anything about boxing, they never ever can imagine that I am almost 50 and competing and winning and a two-time champion headed to be three before the end of this year. It is well-documented how I treat my body. If you read Bernard Hopkins name in the dictionary, the definition would be 'discipline.'"
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Danyelle Wolf, U.S. Champion Female Boxer: "Boxing is like a blank canvas for me. I see it very much like my artwork. With a painting, it's what you put into it -- throwing all the paint on the canvas was eating healthy, strength training, cardio and going to all the tournaments. So when you're done, you get to stand back and look at your masterpiece and say, 'Wow, I did that.'" See more photos at ESPN.com.
15/17
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Megan Rapinoe, Midfielder for the Seattle Reign FC National Women's Soccer League: " I've had to find different ways to beat people who are bigger and stronger than me. I was always a lot smaller growing up. I still feel that same way today. I've always focused on my game mentally as my advantage over other people. I want to get into little spaces and have my movement beat them, or have my touches be smoke and mirrors."
16/17
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Omar Gonzalez, Defender for LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer and the US Men's National Team: "I don't really care how much you can lift in the gym. I think it's funny that there are a lot of really buff guys out there. What is all that for? They are just strong for no reason. For me, I have to be strong for my sport, so I can compete at the highest level. I may not have been the biggest, but when it came down to playing, I shut people up."
17/17
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Hilary Knight, Forward for the United States Women's National Hockey Team: "I had this idea that muscular isn't feminine. There is this image of athletic women as small and petite -- the yoga body type. Women in general, we tend to shrink ourselves and not have as much confidence as we should in presenting ourselves and our body types. It's OK to be fit and healthy and comfortable within your body, whatever frame you have. Since gaining 15 pounds to be at the top of my sport [for the Olympics], I've tried to shatter the body image that muscular isn't feminine." See more photos at ESPN.com.
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