Feature

Ashley Harkleroad: Playboy’s first tennis player

Why pro tennis player Harkleroad posed nude

Ashley Harkleroad is the first professional tennis player to grace the pages of Playboy, said TheImproper.com, but she’s “not the first female athlete to appear in the magazine. Olympic gold medal figure skater Katarina Witt has also posed nude, as have Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard and former volleyball player Gabrielle Reese.” But Harkleroad might be “following in the footsteps of former tennis pro Anna Kournikova,” who also “struggled in her tennis career but was known the world over for her cover girl looks.”

Hey, if you’ve got the looks, said Mark Wiedmer in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, why not cash in on them? Harkleroad took in a “payday in the general neighborhood of $400,000,” which is “40 percent of the prize money the 23-year-old” has “earned during her eight years on the tour.” That’s a lot of money for a tennis player that’s ranked No. 71 in the world.

And let’s face it, said Mark McGuire in the TimesUnion.com, “sports sells. Sex sells. Sports and sex, or at least sexuality, go together like A-Rod and Madonna.” Human beings “are drawn to the physical ideal.” And “objectification comes naturally in sports, regardless of gender or orientation: Look at those guns ... That guy is ripped ... Her legs go on forever ...” How is posing for Playboy any different?

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