“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.”
The Olympics symbolize so much for our global community. The unity that is felt is amazing and gives me goose bumps. There is so much dedication and love the athlete’s themselves pour into their chosen sport. Each athlete has given their all to achieve lifelong dreams and their journeys have led them here to Rio to compete for their countries with pride. The energy is electric and contagious. I am so happy to be part of the opening ceremony in my homeland and to celebrate these bright stars from around the globe. I truly believe that each Olympian lights the path for the next young child dreaming of being at the Olympics and encourages the practice of sports. As I walk down tonight on the longest runway I have ever been on I will be sending out all my love and positivity. I am humbled and honored to be part of this historic moment for my country. I believe that the unity is the key to creating a world filled with kindness, gratitude, peace, and love.❤️🙏🏼🇧🇷🌎 Os Jogos Olímpicos simbolizam muito para a nossa comunidade global. A união de todos os povos é maravilhosa e me dá arrepios. É tocante ver que os atletas colocam toda sua dedicação e amor no esporte escolhido por eles. Cada atleta deu seu melhor ao longo de sua vida para alcançar seus sonhos, e suas jornadas os trouxeram aqui para o Rio para competir por seus países, com orgulho. A energia é eletrizante e contagiante. Estou muito feliz por fazer parte da cerimônia de abertura no meu país e por celebrar as estrelas do esporte de todo o mundo. Eu realmente acredito que cada atleta olímpico ilumina o caminho para a próxima criança que sonha fazer parte dos Jogos Olímpicos e estimula a prática do esporte. Hoje à noite, quando eu desfilar pela mais longa passarela em que já estive, vou estar enviando todo o meu amor e positividade. Sinto-me honrada por fazer parte deste momento histórico para o meu país. Acredito que união é a chave para criar um mundo cheio de bondade, gratidão, paz e amor.
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.”