PRATTVILLE, Ala. – Christina Kim says she isn’t changing for anyone.
She intends to remain the colorful, fun loving player who engages golf galleries more easily than any LPGA pro on tour, but she was wounded by the recent wave of criticism for her exuberant cheerleading role at the Solheim Cup in August and by the grief she has received for choosing to take part in ESPN the Magazine’s first-ever “Body Issue” issue.
The special theme issue appears to be the magazine’s response to Sports Illustrated’s popular swimsuit issue and will reportedly celebrate the bodies of athletes in revealing photographs that Kim says are tastefully done. Kim and fellow LPGA pros Anna Grzebien and Sandra Gal will be among 30 athletes featured from several sports in the Oct. 19 issue. The NBA’s Dwight Howard, tennis’ Serena Williams and the NFL’s Adrian Peterson also will be featured.
Kim, 25, a two-time LPGA winner, says the controversy that has arisen over the last six weeks has deeply hurt her, but she was in feisty, good humor after the first round of the Navistar LPGA Classic, where she played herself into early contention.
What was your initial reaction when you were asked to do ESPN the Magazine’s photo shoot for the “Body” issue?
I thought long and hard about it, and when I got all the information, which was lacking in a golf magazine article written about it, I was happy and willing to do it.
So tell us about the nature of the photos and the photo shoot?
I can’t until it is published.
What did you think long and hard about before you agreed to do it?
The assumptions I had made about the shoot were incorrect in terms of the reason why they are doing the issue and things like that.
What made it acceptable for you to do?
I would be happy to tell you next Friday after it comes out. I don’t want to share anything out of respect for the publication.
Are you getting any grief for agreeing to pose?
I have gotten grief through certain media outlets that are going off what was written in an article that wasn’t entirely accurate. Actually, I’ve been asked a lot of questions, but not given so much grief, that’s probably the best way to put it.
Have you seen the photos?
Yes, I went up to New York City and looked at most of the issue itself. I sat with their senior editor and checked it out and chatted with them at great length and was very, very pleased with the way the shoot came out. The entire issue is going to be phenomenal.
You are satisfied that it will be tastefully done?
Absolutely, ESPN is owned by the Disney company. So, absolutely, they do things tastefully. It’s not a bare-it-all. Things are strategically placed. I don’t think there’s any illicit content whatsoever.
For a fun-loving young woman, you’ve gotten into the middle of some controversy lately. There was some heat on you after the Solheim Cup for your exhortations of the crowd there.
At the Solheim Cup, I behaved the exact same way in ‘05 and everyone loved it. As for what someone said in a publication, at least I was behaving that way once every four years, not in every tournament I was in contention. I’m not naming names.
Has the criticism hurt you?
Absolutely, it tore me apart. I actually stopped tweeting for awhile and refused to read what people were writing about me. The Solheim Cup was six, seven weeks ago. I haven’t read a single thing in a newspaper, magazine article or anything about me on the Internet in a good five weeks. You know what? People make assumptions about me. They think they know who I am and nine times out of 10, they are dead wrong. As fun-loving, gregarious, outgoing, or, whatever, I’m still a human being, and I’m very sensitive to what people say about me and I just want people to like me, just like any normal human being.
What hurt the most?
Things being stated incorrectly. I’m actually in a libel and defamation suit in Korea. I’m not taking crap from anyone anymore.
How were you libeled, defamed? What was written?
They admitted they intentionally mistranslated something to make it seem malicious, but I’m not really wanting to talk about it right now. I’m not taking anyone’s crap anymore.
But what was written? What publication?
I’m choosing not to talk about that.
Has the unpleasantness of these things changed you?
I’m not changing at all. People are entitled to their own opinions, but at the same time, my theory is if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. This world is tough enough without being negative.
So, on a more upbeat note to end our quick round, what other big things are ahead for you?
My book. I’m writing a book with [Sports Illustrated writer] Alan Shipnuck. It’s going to be out in early 2010. It’s going to be like a blog of 2009, with a front cover and back cover and picture inserts. I’m really into photography these days, and I’ve been taking pictures and all sorts of stuff.
Does the book have a title yet?
Almost, I’m not sure it’s completely set, I better not say yet.