will serena williams make the 2016 pirelli calendar the most body-positive yet?
With Annie Leibovitz back behind the camera, 2016 might be The Cal's most empowering year ever.
Since 64, the release of the Pirelli calendar has been an occasion to, well, mark on your calendar. For the past 50 years, the Italian tire manufacturer has enlisted the world's most gorgeous girls to pose for the annual shoot. Last year, an all-star team of Steven Meisel, Carine Roitfeld and Pat McGrath tapped Joan Smalls, Anna Ewers, plus size model Candice Huffine and Gigi Hadid for one of the sexiest efforts to date. While 2016's calendar girls are mostly a mystery, two confirmations position Pirelli's next calendar to be perhaps its most empowering yet: Serena Williams and Annie Leibovitz.
This isn't Leibovitz's first turn behind the calendar camera. The legendary photographer shot 2000's Pirelli cal at her studio in the Hudson River Valley, and cast Olympic athlete Jacqui Agyepong as well as five dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group to star alongside models Laetitia Casta and Alek Wek. Leibovitz's 2000 nudes aren't overtly sexy; rather, the dark portraits depict the raw power of the female form. So it's no surprise Leibovitz turned to the greatest female tennis player of all time to carry out her vision in 2016.
As Salon noted earlier this year, Williams has been subjected to relentless body shaming throughout her entire record-smashing career. But as the living legend told Good Morning America in August after social media trolls set in on a bikini selfie she posted to Instagram, she "[doesn't] have time to be brought down." "I love that I'm a full woman and I am strong, and I'm powerful, and I'm beautiful at the same time, and there's nothing wrong like that," later adding, "I have people to inspire, and that's what I'm here for."
With months usually reserved for models of the moment, it's awesome to see Leibovitz continue to use Pirelli's platform to push our perceptions of beauty past supermodel sex appeal. We're looking forward to finding out who else will turn up on Leibovitz's pages come November when the full calendar is revealed.
Text Emily Manning
Image via Flickr User Jimmy Baikovicius