Athletes strip off for ESPN Body Issue

04:23, Jul 09 2014
FIT TO BE NUDE: Venus Williams follows in the footsteps of her sister Serena, who appeared on the debut cover of the Body Issue back in 2009, while Michael Phelps is clearly back in peak form after revealing he got 'fat and out of shape' during his hiatus from swimming.
FIT TO BE NUDE: Super Bowl champion Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Seattle Seahawks, says "I'm cool with my body, I love my body. I wouldn't trade it for no other body", while Olympic gold-medal-winning snowboarder Jamie Anderson names her "freakin' booty" as her 'favourite' asset.
FIT TO BE NUDE: Texas Rangers baseball player Prince Fielder shows off his colourful array of tattoos, while Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is captured in motion (maybe Steven will get the call-up next year).

Athletes come in all shapes and sizes, and ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue makes that abundantly clear.

For the sixth time in as many years, the publication is celebrating the athletic form by showcasing world class sportspeople in nothing but the skin they were born in (well, that and a few well-placed props of course).

Gracing the six special-edition covers are five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Olympic gold-medal-winning snowboarder Jamie Anderson, Texas Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka.

So next time you're considering skiving off the gym for an evening on the couch, keep Venus' perfectly toned posterior and Michael's defined quads in mind - we know we will be.

ICYMI: Tennis stars Venus Williams & Tomas Berdych are featured in the latest @ESPNMag Body Issue! What do you think?