Supermodel Gisele Bündchen will make her return to the runway Friday as she takes part in the Opening Ceremony for the Summer Olympics, which are being held in her home country of Brazil – and she’s a little nervous about it.
“This is for sure the longest runway I have ever walked in my life and by far with the most amount of people watching, so it is a little nerve-wracking I must say,” Bündchen told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview Friday. “This is a very special moment for my country and I am humbled that they invited me to be a part of such a special celebration.”
Bündchen, 36, was born in rural Horizontina, Brazil, and modeled in Sao Paolo before she relocated to N.Y.C. and became the world’s highest-paid supermodel. But she’s always maintained deep connections to her home country, running multiple businesses in Brazil, participating in Sao Paolo fashion week, visiting her family – including her five sisters – there regularly, and even raising her two children, Benjamin, 5, and Vivian, 3, with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to speak both English and Portuguese.
“They are both fluent in Portuguese. Vivi has no accent and Benny has a little more,” says Bündchen, who brought both children along with her to Rio de Janeiro. (Brady, 39, is stuck back home in Boston, where he’s already in training for the Patriots’ upcoming season.)
“Definitely to see my family is the best thing I get to do when I am in Brazil,” she says. “Most of my family will be here for the ceremony. We just love being together no matter what we are doing. My family loves talking and sharing since we don’t get to do that very often. It’s also so nice to have all the kids together and see how they are interacting.”
Despite much criticism over the seemingly chaotic lead-up to the Olympics, as the Zika virus ravaged Brazil and political unrest led to concerns about safety in Rio, Bündchen defended the city.
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“I feel that there will always be people judging and criticizing no mater what,” she says. “I believe that there are different ways to look at things; I always chose to focus on the positive because I believe that so much of what we create comes from what we believe.”
She also showcased the beauty of the city on Instagram and Snapchat Friday morning.
“It was an honor for me to be invited to take part of the opening ceremonies in my country. I always loved watching the opening ceremonies through the years and the Olympic games are one of my favorite sporting events to watch,” adds Bündchen, who will walk the world’s longest runway to an appropriate song, “The Girl from Ipanema.”
“It’s a beautiful celebration of all the diversity in the world through sports,” she says. “It’s so nice to see the world come together at these times. To me, it feels like at this moment we can all be as one.”