Game on!

Serena Williams is the guest editor of ESSENCE’s July 2013 “Body Issue,” gracing the cover in a fabulous ombre Carmen Marc Valvo swimsuit and Ben-Amun hoop earrings.

Inside, the three-time ESSENCE cover star and number one female pro tennis player in the world reveals how she returned to the top of her game after a debilitating fight against a pulmonary embolism two years ago. Her health struggle, captured in the recent documentary Venus and Serena, might have brought others to their knees, but not Williams, who describes turning to her spirituality and her sisters for support.

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The triumphant athlete also talks to ESSENCE about all the attention her body receives — especially her famous derriere.

“It can be a bit weird,” she admits. “Before it was, ‘Serena has a big butt,’ and that was all. Now there are way more people who feel comfortable with themselves and they’re saying, ‘I’m a woman, and this is what I look like.’ I always say, ‘We’re popular now! We’re finally in style!'”

For our full interview with Serena Williams — in which she describes how her late sister Tunde taught her to embrace her curves, and how at 31 years old she is in better shape than ever — pick up the July issue of ESSENCE (on newsstands June 3).

(Love the swimsuit but can’t afford the designer version? Get the look for $59 on p.2!)