Liz Cambage is one of the best female basketball players in the world. And that’s not just our opinion/bias toward a beaut Melbourne heroine, it’s in the stats: Liz currently holds the WNBA scoring record, which she earned in July last year with a 53 point performance in a single game. And she’s set to perform and compete among the absolute pinnacle of athletes in Tokyo next year at a little event you may have heard of called the Olympics.
Aside from being a literal champion, Liz is also a DJ, a business owner and major source of inspo for us. So, it makes perfect sense that she’s been tapped as the new face of Bonds in their latest Get Real campaign, which celebrates women who love to be seen — unfiltered and real.
“Bonds is a brand I grew up wearing, so being part of a campaign that’s so diverse means a lot to me,” she tells us from her new home in Vegas, where she relocated to this year upon signing with local WNBA team the Las Vegas Aces.
As for her first memories of everyone’s fave Aussie brand, it turns out that, like all of us, she has a childhood Bonds story: “I used to have a pair of lucky Bonds undies when I was 15 years old that I would always play basketball in,” she reveals. “I still remember them – they had an iron on gel print and there were diamonds and gems. I would wear them to every basketball game.” Cute!
But for now, Liz is off the prints and diamanté selection from Bonds and leaning right into their new ribbed range, which we’re pretty excited to see comes in a range of neutrals and bold block colourways. “I’m very into lounging around in the most minimal clothing I can wear right now, so I love wearing the ribbed bra and matching high waisted undies. I lounge around in my apartment all day in them,” she says, which is totally understandable given the current summer heat in Vegas. “There’s a time and place for sexy underwear, but comfortable over looking good is how I live most of the time,” she laughs. And we feel this on an emotional and physical level, too.
“I guess being fake is hard for me but being real comes easy.”
Although Liz pins her professional success down to her “drive, being a Leo and wanting to be the best” — which is an attitude we can definitely vibe with — we’re also curious as to what really pushes her, on a deeper, more personal level. While her family comes into it, she tells us that, ultimately, she does everything for herself: “I’m the one that has to deal with me at the end of the day,” she rationalises. Big personal accountability mood.
Liz isn’t one to flash fakeness for the props, instead sharing the realities of her life online, “I guess I am fortunate that being fake is hard for me but being real comes easy.” From chilling with ASAP Ferg at Coachella and Paris Hilton in Melbourne, to speaking openly about racism, anxiety and depression, and encouraging young people to push for more, Liz presents a real and unfiltered front.
But there is a line: “I think a lot of people think I put a lot of my life online, but I’m just showing you what I want you to see,” she says.
“I think it’s because I’ve got such an outgoing personality, that I’m a Leo and that I’m a little bit self-obsessed that I find it easy to put a lot online… but at the end of the day, I keep my personal life offline and I usually keep a lot of family stuff offline.”
With conversations around health, realness, social media and undies, we inevitably talk about mental health and body image. While today Liz presents as a strong, capable and confident woman, it hasn’t always been that easy. As a young person, she experienced first-hand what it’s like to be deflated by your peers, and as an adult, Liz has been very open about struggles with mental health and happiness.
“I wasn’t very comfortable in primary school or high school,” she tells us. “That’s why I got into basketball. I was being bullied and I was struggling to make friends. I would come home crying every day, hating myself because people would treat me differently and I just couldn’t fit in.”
“If you’re not facing your feelings… you’re not actually going to solve your issues or get past your problems.”
Now, as a woman focusing on her career, Liz places huge importance on mental health. She’s all about body, mind and spirit and speaks quite frankly about it. “I think mental and physical health are equally as important as each other,” she tells us. “Not just athletes, but anyone — we all go through things and I think it’s really important to make sure you have healthy coping mechanisms. We live in a society where we’re prescribed medication, and people drink alcohol and do whatever to release their issues. But if you’re not facing your feelings… you’re not actually going to solve your issues or get past your problems — it’s just going to build up and get worse.”
It’s perhaps easy to feel detached here — we expect that an elite athlete would have access to the support that helps them navigate their professional and personal struggles, to help them be the best they can be — but her journey and wisdom gained is more relatable than unattainable.
“It’s been really tough growing up and learning to love myself, but I’ve finally got it now and I am very lucky to be me — I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she explains. “I’m about to turn 28 and I’m finally starting to understand my body and what it needs… I love myself.”
She acknowledges that support of balance and mental health in sport is definitely getting a lot better, but there is still a long way to go and it’s still something that is very much left to the individual to manage.
“There’s been a time when I’ve had to say, ‘I need a year off,'” she says of her 18-month hiatus from the game in 2016. “I think it is super important to schedule breaks and to have a balance, because without a balance you’re going to break down and run yourself into the ground.”
But for now, Liz is laser-focused on pushing herself to perform in the WNBA season as a warm up to the Olympics next year. “Right now, the Tokyo Olympics is my end game and I would really love to win the WMBA Championship on the way to that,” she tells us of her 2019/20 goals — after which she plans to have some well-deserved time off again, probs lounging around in her undies 😉
Photography and videography James Robinson
Fashion Thalea Michos Vellis
Produced by Oyster in partnership with Bonds.