Sports Illustrated Swimsuit goes bold: Megan Thee Stallion, Naomi Osaka, Leyna Bloom

Ruth Etiesit Samuel, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Three stars grace the cover of the 2021 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated: tennis champion Naomi Osaka, rapper Megan Thee Stallion and model and activist Leyna Bloom.

While Bloom makes history as the first transgender woman to land a Sports Illustrated cover, Osaka, who is Japanese and Haitian, is the first Black female athlete on a cover and Houston hottie Megan is the first woman rapper to be featured.

Photographer Yu Thai shot Bloom and Osaka in their swimsuits, while James Macari captured Megan Thee Stallion in hers.

Donning a light brown, scrappy cutout bikini from Fashion Nova, Thee Hot Girl took to Instagram to celebrate her cover and wrote in all caps, "REAL SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT EDITION COVER MODEL S—!!!"

After her chart-topping album "Good News" and her latest single, "Thot S—," the SI cover is just the icing on the cake for Megan, who became the first female rapper since 1999 to win the Grammy for best new artist this past March.

Last year, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio was the first transgender model to be featured inside SI Swimsuit; this year Bloom, who is Black and Filipina, takes it one step further with a cover appearance.


A prominent figure and dancer in New York City's ballroom culture, Bloom dedicated the cover to "all ballroom femme queens past, present and future."

On Instagram, Bloom wrote, "This moment heals a lot of pain in the world. We deserve this moment…This historical moment is important to #girlslikeus because it allows us to live and be seen."

For Osaka, this feature follows her Vogue Hong Kong cover, the premiere of her Netflix documentary, her withdrawal from the French Open for mental health reasons and her debut as a Barbie.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 also features actress and social media personality Olivia Culpo, singer-songwriter Tinashe and YouTuber and makeup artist Nyma Tang. The issue will be available on newsstands Thursday.


©2021 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.