July 19, (THEWILL) – In what has been a trying year for world number two tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, a historic cover for the 2021 Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit issue comes as a welcome relief. The magazine unveiled the cover on Monday, featuring the reigning Australian Open champion.
In making the prestigious cover of SI, the 23-year-old discussed what being on it means to her when she said: “I’m so proud to be the first Japanese and Haitian woman to grace one of the covers. I feel like that multi-cultural background is present in all of the things that I do.
“I try to incorporate it in everything, so hopefully, you see that. My memories [of the magazine] kind of involve the people that I grew up admiring, so I remember Tyra Banks’s issue, I remember Beyonce’s.
“Just growing up and watching so many incredible women grace this cover, for me, it feels like a dream.”
THEWILL recalls that Osaka withdrew from the year’s French Open after the first round due to reactions to her decision to boycott the mandatory Press conferences on mental health grounds. She was fined $15,000 and threatened by a joint statement of all four Slams. She took a break from active tennis and stayed away from Wimbledon.
However, she decided to return in the Olympics and is currently in Tokyo preparing to represent the host nation as the Summer Olympic Games. She will compete in the women’s singles competition starting on July 24.
MJ Day, the Swimsuit editor for SI said of the cover: “We celebrate Naomi for her passion, strength and power geared toward consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice and mental health.”
This year’s issue of Sports Illustrated magazine will have three different cover models. Each of Osaka, rap star Megan Thee Stallion and transgender model, actor and activist Leyna Bloom will have their own separate covers for the year and the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue will be released on July 22.