Beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings looks radiant in ESPN The Magazine. In the first photo shoot, she was pregnant with her daughter Scout; the second was a follow-up session posing with her newborn just nine weeks after giving birth.
“Driving there I was sweating bullets,” the Olympic mom, 34, tells PEOPLE. “I was really, really nervous. I felt exposed, not just physically, but with all of my insecurities.”
The gorgeous shots appear in the magazine’s fifth annual Body Issue, along with nude photos of male and female athletes. The sports range from pro football to golf to tennis to beach volleyball.
“When I was offered this opportunity it wasn’t an automatic yes. I had to think about it. I’m my parents’ daughter. I have my husband,” she shares. “When I came down to it, I had the opportunity to do something uncomfortable. I think that’s an important part of life. It’s something new. I looked at it as a challenge.”
The mom-of-three gained 36 lbs. on her 6′, 2” frame while pregnant with her daughter whom was born on April 6. And while the athlete has lost most of the baby weight, she is trying to drop the last 12 lbs.
“I have been working my butt off literally every single day,” Kerri says, while training for her first post-baby tournament in Switzerland later this month. “I’ve come a long way from April when I had my baby. But I’m definitely not where I would normally be going into my first tournament of the season.”
Kerri will also have time to adjust playing without longtime partner Misty May-Treanor, who retired after they won their third gold at the London Olympics. After joining interim partner Whitney Pavlik, Kerri will team with new partner April Ross.