Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki raised eyebrows – and pulses – with a new advertisement promoting her own line of underwear.
The Danish bombshell, a former world number one and girlfriend of British golf sensation Rory McIlroy, is filmed in a variety of provocative poses wearing just bras and knickers.
She is not the first sports star to get her kit off to sell pants though – and she won’t be the last.
So we’ve cobbled together a list of some of the more high-profile athletes who have been paid to strip down for the sake of underwear sales, and somewhat surprisingly, most have been male.
1. David Beckham
Becks is no stranger to commercial endorsements – France Football estimated he is still the highest-paid player in the game, with over 90% of his income coming from sponsorship and advertising deals.
Perhaps the most famous was his string of saucy ads promoting Emporio Armani’s boxer briefs – more on them later. That campaign was so successful Becks went alone, launching his own range of H&M underwear. Feast your eyes, girls (and boys).
2. Magdalena Neuner
Regular watchers and readers of Eurosport will know all about the now retired German biathlete, the most successful woman of all time in the sport. She quit last year, at the age of just 25, but with pins like these a future career in modelling is not out of the question. Neuner is pictured here sporting MEY underwear in her homeland.
3. Freddie Ljungberg
The former Arsenal winger was as famed for his metrosexual look as his pace and skills on the pitch. The fashionable Swede was picked as the face (groin?) of Calvin Klein’s then-ubiquitous range of boxer briefs, with huge billboards adorning many a cityscape in the mid 2000s. So high-profile was the campaign that he was known as an underwear model to many in the US, unaware of his soccer ability. Special mention also goes to tennis duo Fernando Verdasco and Janko Tipsarevic, who have both since modelled for CK.
4. Gisela Dulko
Argentine bombshell Dulko retired from tennis at the end of last season, much to the disappointment of red-blooded males across Latin America. One of said males, footballer Fernando Gago, is her husband, and the news that Dulko is expecting a child means these type of shoots are likely to be put on the backburner for a year or two. Still, it was fun while it lasted, the former world doubles number one promoting Selu lingerie in her homeland.
5. Italian national football team
Dolce and Gabbana have a long-standing arrangement with the Azzurri, with the now infamous 2006 campaign raising eyebrows as the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Gennaro Gattuso and Andrea Pirlo posed in dressing-room scenarios, wearing nothing but their undies, facial hair and what appeared to be baby oil. It was such a success that similar ads have appeared since for the Euros and World Cup tournaments.
6. Nicklas Bendtner
One from leftfield, as celebrity booze-hound and occasional striker Bendtner was innovatively using underpants as a medium to advertise betting company Paddy Power while playing for Denmark at Euro 2012. It was an expensive piece of guerrilla marketing in the end – UEFA fined him £80k for breaching their strict rules on sponsors - but lucky for him the bookmakers picked up the bill, delighted with the free publicity.
7 & 8. Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal
When Beckham left Armani they must have feared the worst. But they managed to subsequently sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Rafael Nadal, who himself is a fan of C-Ron’s Real Madrid. Both shoots were slightly camper than Beckham’s, but the continental European market is slightly more effete than Britain's.
9. Tim Tebow
One man who will not go ‘all the way’ in his attempts to sell pants is NFL star Tebow. The New York Jets quarterback is a devout Christian, and agreed to publicise Jockey’s classic underwear on the condition he did not strip down to his undies. As a result he is either fully-clothed or topless in sports gear in this campaign. Seems a bit pointless, but the born-again market is huge in the US and Jockey appear happy to target it.
10. Jim Palmer
Sticking with Jockey, it is a little-known fact that the American underwear manufacturer invented the infamous men’s Y-fronts. Subsequently, in the saucy Seventies, Jockey elected to emblazon the near-naked form of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Palmer on their advertising campaign. A world away from Tebow’s sanitised 2012 vintage, the shift highlights a change in attitudes among many Americans.
How could any talk of underpants in sport not feature the master, the greatest, the legendary Borg. A multiple Grand Slam winner and renowned playboy, Borg’s life after tennis was initially a bit of a mess but the fashionable Swede came up with the idea of marketing his colourfully-designed underwear to male and female fans. He initially caused a storm with the strapline “F*** for the Future” (Sweden’s ageing population was in rapid decline at the time), but his line of boxers, bras, swimwear and accessories has become one of the world leaders, particularly among tennis fans. Indeed, several members of this office are currently sporting his work, but you don’t need to see that...