STANFORD -- With so many players on the Women's Tennis Association circuit from Eastern Europe -- there are 23 in the top 50 alone -- sometimes a little controversy doesn't hurt as far as getting noticed.

Much to her chagrin, Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska accomplished that a few weeks ago when she posed in the buff for ESPN the Magazine's body issue, the same issue that featured 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick "in the flesh" on its cover.

Even though Radwanska's lone photo was a modest, tasteful, strategically positioned shot of her sitting in a chair near a swimming pool full of tennis balls, the photo created a firestorm in her home country, where she was dropped by a Catholic youth group for "immoral behavior."

It might not sound like such a big deal, but Radwanska, 24, is a celebrity back home. She was the first Polish woman to win a WTA tournament and has 12 titles. She is ranked fourth in the world and lacks only a Grand Slam title to be considered one of the game's elite players.

Since the magazine came out, Radwanska is making her first tournament appearance this week in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center, and she can't wait to get started, if only to put her off-court controversy on the back burner.

But Radwanska doesn't regret her decision, hasn't apologized and believes the organization that criticized her overreacted.

"I think I wasn't really expecting that huge thing about it," she said. "I'm still happy that I did it."


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While she has resisted answering too many questions about it in the media, she posted a long statement on her Facebook page offering her point of view about the pose.

"The pictures are certainly not meant to cause offense and to brand them as immoral clearly does not take into account the context of the magazine," she said. "Moreover, they do not contain any explicit imagery whatsoever. I train extremely hard to keep my body in shape and that's what the article and the magazine is all about."

This will be Radwanska's fourth appearance at the Bank of the West -- she will play her first match Wednesday night against Italy's Francesca Schiavone -- and her first as the top seed after last week's withdrawal of second-ranked Maria Sharapova.

Radwanska is taking nothing for granted, though. At Wimbledon, she was the highest-ranked player to make the semifinals after Serena Williams and Sharapova were upset in the first week and Victoria Azarenka pulled out with a knee injury.

Radwanska conceded her first Grand Slam was there for the taking, but she was upset by 23rd-ranked Sabine Lisicki of Germany in a grueling three-set semifinal.

Radwanska said she just ran out of gas during a third set that Lisicki won 9-7.

"I had a lot of tough matches over there -- four matches in a row that lasted over three hours," she said. "That's a lot on grass. My legs were really working hard, and I wasn't fresh enough for the third set. It was pretty close, but she was just better on a few points."

As consolation, Radwanska is proud of the fact that she is the only player to make the quarterfinals in all three Grand Slams this year, and doing it on the clay courts of the French Open was a breakthrough.

"It's not my favorite surface," she said.

She was also the only Wimbledon semifinalist who left the tournament healthy enough to come to the Bank of the West. Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, Lisicki and Kirsten Flipkens pulled out with injuries.

"I think all of those girls were playing a lot of tennis," she said. "I did, too, but I think my body has recovered. I've been playing well and I'm ready to start my hard-court season."

She is even more ready to put the magazine flap behind her.

  • Budding 18-year-old star Madison Keys of Boca Raton, Fla., made an impressive Bank of the West debut, defeating eighth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-2.