For almost 60 years, Sports Illustrated has been producing its notorious swimsuit issue that garners a lot of buzz and is known to put lesser known models on the map. This morning (July 19), the magazine announced its history-making lineup of covergirls for the 2021 issue and it’s full of firsts. Most notably, the cover will be graced by three Black women: Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka, and Leyna Bloom.
Megan will be the first rapper to ever be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated and the second musical artist on the cover after Beyonce. The “Thot Shit” rapper celebrated the news on Twitter, stating that “hottie bootcamp pays off” in reference to her workout series on YouTube.
Osaka is set to be the first Black athlete to cover the magazine in the swimsuit issue. The tennis champ, who has been away from the public eye to improve her mental health, made a triumphant return to the spotlight posing for the cover in a black mesh cut-out bathing suit. In a statement for Sports Illustrated, the 23-year-old said that this opportunity “feels like a dream.”
The third historic cover model, Bloom, is the first transgender woman to be featured on the cover. The model took to Instagram to express her excitement stating how “happy, honored, and humbled” she is to be the one to break ground for the publication. The Chicago native also made sure to convey how “this moment heals a lot of pain in the world,” for trans individuals, while adding that they “deserve this moment.”
These three women will be joining the ranks of other models who made history on the cover of Sports Illustrated including Tyra Banks, the first Black model on the cover, and soccer great Megan Rapinoe, the first openly gay cover model. Beyond even the cover models, this is among the most diverse swimsuit edition from the magazine because it features plus-sized models, a historic number of women on color, and a 57-year-old, as well.