22 of the Best Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Covers From Years Past

26 of the Best ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Covers From Years Past

While many use Sports Illustrated magazines to catch up on the latest and best stories in the world of sports, fans of the magazine also look forward to the swimsuit issue that comes out annually. In recent years, the SI Swimsuit issue has done their best to celebrate women from all walks of live and who come in all shapes and sizes.

So in honor of the most recent 2020 Swimsuit addition having just been released, we are grabbing some of the covers from years past to admire the beautiful women who have graced them. Do you have a favorite cover that comes to mind?

Here are 26 of the best Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covers from years past.

2016: Ashley Graham

Model Ashley Graham, who recently became a mom for the first time, was one of the swimsuit cover models for the years 2016. And how stunning does she look? What’s even better is that she was the very first plus-size model to be featured in a SI Swim issue and on the cover. How awesome is that?

1990: Judit Masco

According to Sports Illustrated, when Judit Masco stunned on the cover of their 1990 issues, it launched them into “the iconic era of supermodels”! Amazing!

2019: Megan Rapinoe

Okay, this may not have been the cover, but this Sports Illustrated photo deserves some respect! The athleticism is out of this world!

2017: Kate Upton

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@kateupton is BACK!

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In 2017, Kate Upton graced the cover of the sports magazine. But she didn’t just have one cover, nope, she had three. Upton also became a mom for the first time not too long ago and you might recognize her husband as well. He’s one of the pitchers for the Houston Astros, Justin Verlander.

2016: Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey stunned on the 2016 cover of Sports Illustrated and get this, she’s not even a model. Rousey is a, now retired, professional mixed martial artist turned WWE wrestler. And believe it or not, the swimsuit Rousey is wearing on the cover isn’t a swimsuit at all. It is actually paint! Wild!

2020: Jasmine Sanders

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@goldenbarbie is no stranger to the world of modeling, having started her career at the age of 13. Jasmine Sanders made a splash last year in her first appearance in SI Swim, winning Rookie of the Year for her shoot in Costa Rica. She’s continued to make an impact as part of the SI Swimsuit family, from speaking on panels at our launch events to spending hours interviewing, connecting and inspiring Swim Search hopefuls.  If you’re one of the 3.9 million people who follow Jasmine on social media, you’ll see her steadfast commitment to fighting for social justice. She uses her platform to provide resources on actions that can be taken—how to donate, sign petitions and more—to educate her fans, all the while sharing her experience as a Black woman in America. “Jasmine is never about Jasmine. Jasmine is about the people who surround her, and her innate desire to go out of her way to make the people who love and support her know that feeling is mutual,” says Day. “Evident from the fact she has amassed millions of fans across social media and champions for the Black, Brown and marginalized communities, using her voice in the most powerful way possible in times and places where it matters most, Jasmine is a true phenomenon.” #SISwim2020 is on newsstands and online Tuesday, July 21st! Head to the link in bio for more. @yutsai88 @tracymurphymua @jrug8 @sooribali @cathaypacific #sooribali #cathaypacific

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Prior to landing the 2020 cover, Jasmine Sanders was named the 2019 Rookie of the Year. And she’s not just beauty, as Sports Illustrated writes, Sanders is committed to “fighting for social justice. She uses her platform to provide resources on actions that can be taken—how to donate, sign petitions, and more—to educate her fans, all the while sharing her experience as a Black woman in America.”

2007: Beyonce

For the special 2007 music issue, none other than Queen Bee herself graced the cover of the magazine. In fact, if our sleuthing serves us correctly, she’s the only pop star to have ever graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. That’s a feat in an of itself.

2020: Olivia Culpo

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@oliviaculpo had a powerful start to her journey with SI Swim, one that included WOMAN written across her chest in black paint. Unlike most of our rookie shoots, Culpo’s first SI Swimsuit experience took place not on a beach but in a photo studio in Brooklyn for the “In Her Own Words” feature in 2018. The narrative of IHOW was dictated by the nine women who participated in the project, as they chose a variety of words that spoke to their journeys as women. After making waves with the impactful words painted on her body, she joined us in Australia in 2019 and Bali for the 2020 issue.  Olivia has built an influential platform and garnered millions of followers on Instagram, a space that she has used as a launching pad for many successful projects. Most recently, in response to COVID-19, Culpo created MoreThanAMask. The company is a line of fashion face coverings, and 100% of the proceeds go to Feeding America. Culpo’s résumé is endless. She is an advocate, fashion designer, actress, entrepreneur—and now an SI Swimsuit cover model. “Olivia Culpo is one of the hardest working people in the industry. I have never seen her give anything less than 200% toward whatever goal she sets for herself. Her accomplishments speak to that and are vast and impressive,” Day says. “It gives me great joy to celebrate such an exemplary professional and hardworking individual whose unapologetic enthusiasm will shine from the cover of our magazine. We are excited to have Olivia represent our brand in a way that celebrates the multifaceted women who pursue their dreams and fill the pages of our issue.” #SISwim2020 is on newsstands and online Tuesday, July 21st! Head to the link in bio for more. @yutsai88 @tracymurphymua @jrugg8 @sooribali @cathaypacific #sooribali #cathaypacific

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Also to land the cover in the year 2020, Olivia Culpo. The model has been featured in three issues now, but she didn’t start out her career as a model. Culpo was actually a fan-favorite when it came to the pageant scene. And to make it all the more impressive, Culpo was the 8th American in history to win Miss Universe. You may also recognize her boyfriend, who is a running back for the Carolina Panthers, Christian McCaffrey.

1976: Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander

What’s better than one cover model? Two cover models. Check out this SI cover from 1976 which features twins sisters Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander. Talk about a throw back.

2020: Olivia Culpo, Kate Bock, and Jasmine Sanders

And what’s better than two cover models? How about three? This year, the magazine put out four variations of their magazine, each one sporting one of four cover options. For this cover option, all three of the chosen cover models posed together. According to Sports Illustrated, it’s the first time the magazine has ever done something like this. “Not only are we giving you one cover showcasing these extraordinary and empowering women together, but we also have three additional covers, one of each model individually. This marks a first for the brand: three powerful women. Four incredible covers. One groundbreaking issue.”

2006: The All-Star Issue

In 2006, Sports Illustrated picked eight of its top swimsuit models and featured all 8 of them at once on their cover. All of them rocked some version of a white bikini.

2009: Bar Refaeli

In 2009, Bar Refaeli graced the cover of the sports magazine. According to its Instagram page, Refaeli has had more than 30 photos featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editions.

2014: The 50th Anniversary Issue

While 2020 was the first time the magazine ever featured four variations of the cover, three covers were produced to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. This one featured Chrissy Teigen, Nina Agdal, and Lily Aldridge.

2014: The Extra Issue

What a year 2014 was for model Nina Agdal who was not only featured on the main cover for the 50th anniversary edition, but she also graced the cover of the magazine’s “Extra” edition which featured 100 never-before-seen photos from that years photoshoots.

2014: The Flip Cover

And the third variation from 2014 featured Kate Upton. From 2013 to 2017, Upton has been featured on the cover three times! What an amazing feat!

2013: Kate Upton

See, we told you! This was Upton’s second-ever cover photo at just 20 years old. Her first cover photo was in 2012 when she was only a teenager. Talk about early success.

2018: Aly Raisman

Again, this may not have been a cover photo, but maybe it should have! This Sports Illustrated has become super iconic for the brand and in society itself!

2020: Kate Bock

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Nine years ago, @katebock was driving through her hometown, Vancouver, when she got the news she had been booked to appear in SI Swim. She remembers pulling over to take in the surreal moment with her sister and cousin, screaming with joy. Little did she know she’d go on to spend almost a decade shooting in the world’s most beautiful destinations, winning 2013 Swimsuit Rookie of the Year, and now appearing on not one but two covers. Kate has been a health and wellness guru long before it was trendy. Born with a mind for branding, she has been a true asset to SI Swimsuit and its evolution toward building a franchise beyond just the magazine pages. We often refer to our models as family because we cherish, care and support them as if they were our own. We also encourage them to be a part of the brand’s business with a constant flow of ideas between us and them. It wouldn’t come as a shock to find Kate Bock in one of our boardrooms helping us brainstorm. “Kate is one of the best brand ambassadors and idea collaborators we’ve worked with,” says Day. “On top of her extensive work as an advocate for mental health and wellness, she has played a pivotal role as a creative and business savvy collaborator for SI Swimsuit.”   #SISwim2020 is on newsstands and online Tuesday, July 21st! Head to the link in bio for more. @yutsai88 @tracymurphymua @jrugg8 @sooribali @cathaypacific #sooribali #cathaypacific

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Nine years before gracing the cover of SI for a second time, Kate Bock landed her first SI feature. As the magazine reported, she was “was driving through her hometown, Vancouver, when she got the news.” It would be several months after that that she would become the 2013 Swimsuit Rookie of the Year. And we’re sure this won’t be the last we’re seeing of Bock.

2019: Tyra Banks

This is far from the first time Tyra Banks has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. In fact, back in the 1990’s, Banks was the first African American model featured on the cover page. And that’s just the first time she made history with Sports Illustrated. This particular cover was taken when Banks was 45 years old, making her the oldest model to ever grace the cover.

1989: Elle McPherson

According to Sports Illustrated, the photo on the right was shot at the Great Barrier Reef with photographer Jay Maisel. And now it has become iconic and worth mimicking!

2016: Hannah Davis

In 2015, Hannah Davis graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition. The year after she would marry legendary baseball player Derek Jeter. They are now the proud parents of two beautiful little girls.

2018: Danielle Herrington

Following in Tyra Banks and Beyonce’s foot steps, Danielle Herrington became just the third African American model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2018. The honor was given to her just one year after her SI debut in 2017, which, get this, was her first ever modeling gig. Talk about knocking it out of the park on the first swing!

2019: Alex Morgan

26 of the Best 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Covers From Years Past – Do you have a favorite cover that comes to mind?

Alex Morgan’s first job isn’t model but you’d never know it looking at her 2019 SI cover. Morgan is actually an Olympic gold medalist and soccer superstar. Not to mention, she recently became a mom for the first time in 2020.

2011: Irina Shayk

After being featured in Sports Illustrated five times, she was given the honor of being its cover model in 2011. And while that may have been her only SI cover, Shayk has graced the coveted cover of Vogue 31 times. Wow!

2016: Hailey Clauson

According to Sports Illustrated, Hailey Clauson “got her start in modeling at age 14 and appeared in Jay- Z’s video ‘Empire State of Mind’ video in 2009” before landing the cover in 2016!

2019: Camille Kostek

26 of the Best 'Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Covers From Years Past – Do you have a favorite cover that comes to mind?

As the second of three 2019 cover models, this is Camille Kostek’s first SI cover photo. You may also know who her boyfriend is. He’s best known for being Tom Brady’s right-hand man on the football field, Rob Gronkowski.

Which of these cover photos is your favorite? And did we miss one you think should have made the list? Let us know!

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