“I’ve never worn a thong bikini, so for that to be my first shot was like a shot of espresso for me because I had to wake up immediately,” she explained in a behind-the-scenes clip of her SI shoot. “The thong is perfect, it really made me feel comfortable. I’m officially a thong girl now!”
Williams donned several different for the issue, including a two-piece, a turquoise, spandex one-piece and a pair of peach bottoms with no top. However, she preferred the “modern one-piece where it’s really, really high.”
She also tried out quite a few poses and locations: “The shower scene was amazing, because I also wanted to do something like that,” she admitted. “I’ve always wanted to let go—let my hair wet, let my face wet and take a supernatural picture that was strong and beautiful at the same time, and I really feel like we were able to achieve that with that shot.”
In fact, that’s something she wants SI readers to feel, too.
“I want people to come away with the fact that it’s OK to be comfortable in your body,” she expressed. “I’m not a size two. It’s OK to look good and feel good and I’m strong. It’s OK to look strong and to be sexy and to be a woman and to be unbreakable—all those things. I really want to have that influence for people out there that have my body type. I want them to be like, ‘I look good too.’ That’s what I hope for.”
Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue is on sale now, catch a glimpse via the player above: