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

Megan Thee Stallion sits in the water on a beach on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 cover.
Megan Thee Stallion on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021 cover, hitting newsstands in July.
(James Macari / Sports Illustrated)

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 SH—!!!”

Multiple nominee Megan Thee Stallion is the first female hip-hop artist to win best new artist since Lauryn Hill in 1999.

Leyna Bloom, in a white one-piece bathing suit, kneels in the sand on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021.
Leyna Bloom on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021, available on newsstands in July.
(Yu Tsai / Sports Illustrated)

After her chart-topping album “Good News” and her latest single, “Thot Sh—,” 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.

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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.

Naomi Osaka wears a black mesh and solid one-piece bathing suit on a beach on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021.
Naomi Osaka is on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2021, available on newsstands in July.
(Yu Tsai / Sports Illustrated)

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 July 22.

The latest Naomi Osaka model Barbie doll is part of the El Segundo-based company’s Role Model Series.


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