Gisele Bündchen slams 'very hurtful' narrative she gave Tom Brady retirement ultimatum before divorce

TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrates with Gisele Bundchen after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Tom Brady celebrates with Gisele Bundchen after winning Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Gisele Bündchen is opening up about her split from Tom Brady, likening their divorce to "a death and rebirth."

In her first interview since announcing their separation, Bündchen slammed "very hurtful" narratives surrounding their divorce — essentially that she left the seven-time Super Bowl champ because he un-retired — as she told Vanity Fair the characterization she gave him an ultimatum is "the craziest thing I've ever heard."

After months of speculation, Brady and Bündchen confirmed in October they were going their separate ways after 13 years of marriage. The timing only fed tabloid fodder. Eight months prior, Brady announced he was retiring after 22 seasons — but 40 days later, the quarterback declared he'd return the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in pursuit of another ring. In August, he took time away from the team to deal with "personal issues." Divorce rumors swirled and neither star disputed the whispers.

However, Bündchen can't believe tabloids "made me somebody who is against football."

"Are you kidding me? I learned about it! I used to joke that I was going to be able to be the ref because I've watched so many games. And I loved it," she told the magazine. Bündchen emphasized that marriages aren't broken overnight. "That takes years to happen."

Bündchen said she'd never give up her "dream" of a happy marriage because Brady decided to play one more season.

"What's been said is one piece of a much bigger puzzle," the former Victoria's Secret angel added. "It's not so black and white."

Bündchen declared she's "always cheered for" Brady and she will "continue forever."

"If there's one person I want to be the happiest in the world, it's him, believe me. I want him to achieve and to conquer. I want all his dreams to come true. That's what I want, really, from the bottom of my heart," she explained.

"Sometimes you grow together; sometimes you grow apart," the activist noted, echoing her and Brady's similar statements when they announced their divorce.

"When I was 26 years old and he was 29 years old, we met, we wanted a family, we wanted things together. As time goes by, we realize that we just wanted different things, and now we have a choice to make," she continued. "That doesn't mean you don’t love the person. It just means that in order for you to be authentic and truly live the life that you want to live, you have to have somebody who can meet you in the middle, right? It's a dance. It's a balance."

Bündchen added, "When you love someone, you don't put them in a jail and say, 'You have to live this life.' You set them free to be who they are, and if you want to fly the same direction, then that's amazing."

At age 42, the supermodel still has goals. And she wants her and Brady's 10-year-old daughter, Vivian, who is "very independent" to see that.

"You want to show them that, in life, you have to find real fulfillment, not living something that you're not," she explained.

When Bündchen met Brady, she was ready to work less and focus on family. That happened sooner than she may have anticipated, though. Shortly after the two began dating in 2006, Brady's ex-girlfriend, Bridget Moynahan, informed him she was pregnant.

"Jack came into our lives and I felt so blessed and it kind of awakened in me this desire of being a mom," the supermodel explained. She and Brady went on to have two children, Vivian and son Ben, 13. Perhaps that's why it's hard for Bündchen to let go of the "fairy tale."

"It's tough because you imagine your life was going to be a certain way, and you did everything you could, you know?" she told the magazine, adding how she's mourning "the death" of her dream. "I believed in fairy tales when I was a kid. I think it's beautiful to believe in that. I mean, I'm so grateful I did."

Bündchen added, "You give a hundred percent of yourself, and it's heartbreaking when it doesn't end up the way you hoped for, and worked for, but you can only do your part."