The image shows a confident, strong and happy Semenya; dressed in Nike, Zara and Levi’s and photographed by Jacques Weyer in Cape Town.
The LGBTI sports icon seems at ease and, while styled to perfection, looks proudly like herself.
It’s a stark comparison with the infamous 2009 YOU magazine cover. In that photo shoot, the magazine tried to “feminize” the Olympic athlete with a “glamour girl makeover” following the global controversy about her gender.
It all seemed very contrived; as if the track star had been pressured to put forward a more “acceptable” persona for the public.
That’s all changed – as seen in the ELLE magazine cover and behind the scene images and video (see below).
ELLE Editor-in-Chief Emilie Gambade said that Semenya is celebrated in the issue as one of South Africa’s women who are “trailblazers, visionaries, pioneers and everyday fighters”.
Addressing the brutal and humiliating media furore about her gender and sex before and after her Rio win in August, Semenya told the magazine:
“The noise, it motivates me. It encourages me to do well, and to be a better person. Not only for myself but in life, how I see and how I treat people. I choose to turn it into something positive. I don’t entertain what goes on. I focus on what i do.”
Last week, Semenya won both the Sports Personality of the Year and LGBTI Role Model of the Year at the 2016 Feather Awards.
The December edition of ELLE South Africa is in stores now.
This article was republished with the permission of Mamba Online. This article originally ran on their website on November 24, 2016.