“I was the little girl who was looking at Sports Illustrated like, ‘One day, this is gonna be me.'”
Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue isn’t just for models anymore! Through the years, the magazine’s infamous Swimsuit Issue has become more than just a space for professional models. Instead, the publication has become much more inclusive.
Since making the shift, Sports Illustrated has included different types of stars on the front page — from musicians to athletes to reality stars. These beautiful and talented women have all totally nailed their Swimsuit Issue debut and are sure to inspire anyone who picks up a copy.
Here are some stars who made the cover of Sports Illustrated…
Kim Kardashian made her debut on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2022 at age 41. The reality star and entrepreneur headed to the Dominican Republic for the shoot, one of her “favorite places in the world.” Kim called the bucket list opportunity “an honor” and “a dream” that was inspired by model Tyra Banks.
“I vividly remember Tyra Banks on the cover and women with curves. I remember thinking that is so cool. But, I still didn’t think I would have — I thought you had to be a professional model and a runway model. It was always really young girls. I don’t want to date myself or sound old, but in my 40s? That’s crazy!” Kim told Sports Illustrated.
Back in 2007, Beyoncé became the first non-model and non-athlete to cover the Swimsuit Issue. Although Beyoncé admitted she was nervous as she had never truly done a swimsuit shoot before, she said was more comfortable knowing that her mother Tina had designed some of the bikinis.
“This is my first time doing swimsuits like this. I wanted to wait until it was something that was really classy and timeless and something that I’d be proud of years from now,” she told Sports Illustrated.
Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka covered Sports Illustrated in 2021, becoming the first Haitian and Japanese woman to be featured on the Swimsuit Issue. Naomi’s shoot took place in Malibu, where she wore bathing suits from her collaboration with Frankies Bikinis as well as some designed by Louis Vuitton. While she said she was a “tiny bit out of [her] element,” it was overall an “incredible” experience.
“It feels really amazing, just growing up and watching so many incredible women grace this cover, for me, it feels like a dream. I remember Tyra Banks’ issue, I remember Beyoncé. I guess [now me],” Naomi told Sports Illustrated.
In 2022, Ciara made her Sports Illustrated debut, which she says was a dream come true. Ciara went on to explain that she was proud to be a part of a shift at the publication to represent different types of women. And not only was she honored to be “one of the handful of women of color” to grace the cover, but she was also thrilled to represent moms in such a major publication.
“Being a mom, typically, you wouldn’t see moms on the cover like that back in the day…We are all women. I think that’s so important…All of, like, the cellulite, all that stuff…I love on the cover there’s a couple little dimples in my tush, which I love, but that’s us. That’s who we are as women, right? It’s real,” Ciara told Extra.
Soccer star Alex Morgan may have made her Sports Illustrated Swimsuit debut in 2012 inside the pages of the magazine, but in 2019, she officially made the cover. When the United States Women’s National Team captain shot the photos on the beaches of St. Lucia, she had no idea she was going to be the cover star and later found out in the middle of an interview.
“I’m so excited to represent all of women’s soccer on the cover of Sports Illustrated. All women. I find as a female athlete, I’m put into a box and I can’t step out of that box without being judged…I’m unapologetic in the things that I do, the things I want to conquer and demanding what we deserve,” Alex said after learning she would be on the cover.
In 2021, Megan Thee Stallion became the first rapper to ever be featured on the magazine’s cover. Megan shot her issue in Miami alongside one of her favorite photographers, James Macari. Not only was it a dream she manifested but Megan also says it was an important moment for representation.
“When I’m watching TV, I don’t see a lot of women who look like me, I don’t see a lot of curvy girls. It doesn’t seem like this body type is being glorified but today, this time, I have a voice, I have a platform. I get to tell everyone this is how it is, this is how it’s going to be…I get to be the first rapper on the cover of Sports Illustrated…I’ve wanted to do it for so long. I’ve wanted to do it all my life. Like honestly, I was the little girl who was looking at Sports Illustrated like, ‘One day, this is gonna be me.’ And I manifested it. I wanted to do it and now I’m here,” Megan said in a behind-the-scenes video.
In 2016, former UFC champion Ronda Rousey covered Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue — but it wasn’t her first time on the front of the mag. Prior to the issue, Ronda had previously been on the cover, recognizing her accomplishments in the ring. But when she posed for the Swimsuit Issue, Ronda bared it all, stripping down to only body paint. She teamed up with artist Joanna Gair to be covered in a hand-painted bathing suit, which she called a “masterpiece.”
“The only time I think I was really self-conscious was, like, you know, they gotta paint all of you. And there was one point where they’re like, ‘Okay, bend over.’ There’s no not awkward way to do this. It was really weird. It was kind of odd – a lot. But [the artist and I] were really like best friends by the time we got out of there. It’s a real good icebreaker,” Ronda said on “The Ellen Show.”