She’s walked down catwalks thousands of times in her career, but supermodel Gisele Bundchen had trouble keeping her nerves in check before her last sashay down the runway, before her native Brazilians at Rio's opening Olympic ceremony.
“Are you kidding me? I was nervous. I just kept thinking to myself, ‘I can't cry, I can't cry,'” she told TODAY’s Natalie Morales. "I just wanted to make the Brazilians proud, you know. Because they chose me to represent them, I didn't want to disappoint."
As Brazil opened the Games, Bundchen took her turn before the entire world, strutting more than 400 feet on a runway in a shimmery dress by Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch. That she walked to the tune of the bossa nova classic, “The Girl From Ipanema,” heightened her nerves even more, she said.
"'Girl From Ipanema' is such a historic thing for Brazil, you know? I mean, really, I feel so humbled and honored and I couldn't have been happier,” she said.
The opening ceremony was a significant step for a nation that has been questioned for its readiness to host the Olympic Games.
“You know everyone was saying, ‘Brazil cannot make it. It can be terrible. The Olympics in Brazil are going to be a disaster,’ and I feel like it was the opposite,” she said. “And I feel like, not because I'm Brazilian but quite frankly, I feel like it was the most beautiful show. It showed so much heart, so much authenticity so much of what Brazil was about.”
Although Bundchen has said in the past that, officially, she is retired from runway work, she couldn't help but take one more stroll on a catwalk, especially for a historic event.
“I'm so in love with Brazil and I've always been and I miss it so much and I love that I was able to be here for this special, special moment for my country," she said. "And I was so happy I was able to be a part of it."