Alex Morgan: Body confident and ready to play

    Story highlights

    • Alex Morgan is the star striker of the USWNT, scoring 50 goals for her country so far
    • The 25-year-old has twice modeled for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition
    • Morgan is proud of the body she has worked for and hopes to inspire confidence in younger girls

    (CNN)She looks every inch a Bond girl, reclining in the Caribbean shallows, the breakwater washing over her bronzed body as she runs her fingers through her long, lustrous tawny locks.

    Slim, toned with rock-hard abs, she has a physique that 007 himself would probably kill for.
      "It's important to accept your body for what God gave you," the star of the U.S. women's soccer team Alex Morgan tells CNN in a phone interview, as she talks about her career -- and the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, whatever shape you are.
      Football's answer to Ursula Andress, the 25-year-old Morgan has posed for Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition. Twice.
      The publication's annual homage to scantily-clad women divides opinion, with critics arguing it serves only to objectify the female athletes who occasionally feature on its pages.
      Away from the camera lens, the pacey striker's achievements have propelled her to the summit of women's football. Morgan has half a century of goals for her country and already has an Olympic gold medal in her back pocket.

      Baring all

      Those years of grafting to build a career and sculpt a seemingly flawless form led to the Sports Illustrated photo shoots.
      "I certainly don't feel like I have the perfect body type ... It's through your own eyes," says the California native. "And for every female, you're going to see flaws in that, you're going to see flaws regardless.
      "So for me it's just important to have that confidence and self-esteem no matter what body type you have. I guess that's why I did Sports Illustrated."
      Not that Morgan is a natural exhibitionist. Her willingness to disrobe is born of a confidence cultivated by sporting excellence and she readily admits to having hang ups about her body just like any other woman -- "no matter if I have bigger legs than upper body," as she puts it.
      "The reason I'm given these opportunities is because of my talents on the field and I expect myself to continue to improve and show people exactly what I have to offer."
      She's fully aware that her pictures might serve as titillation for an audience less concerned with her footballing prowess, but Morgan argues the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues are a powerful platform to get U.S. women's football into the nation's mindset.
      "I think there's a certain degree which guys like to buy the issue for themselves," admits Morgan. "But, from my point of view, I'm doing this for myself. I'm doing this for the sport and for young girls to see the confidence that I am showing and that I am expressing."
      Morgan is all too aware that, for women, objectification is an everyday occurrence.
      "Being objectified, for a female, is going to happen no matter if you're posing for a magazine or walking down the street, that's just going to happen in every female's life," she argues.
      "What I wanted to do was to express my confidence and be proud of the hard work I put in on the field to have the body that I have."

      The write stuff

      Engendering that confidence in younger women was also part of the motivation for "The Kicks" -- a series of books authored by Morgan about a young girl's experiences on a soccer team.
      Released in 2013, the first novel "Saving the Team" debuted at No. 7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List for Children's Middle Grade literature, while Amazon is said to have ordered a pilot for a small screen adaptation of the series.