Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart are among five WNBA players featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
In addition to the Storm stars, Nneka Ogwumike, DiDi Richards and Te’a Cooper posed in all-black bikinis and were photographed by Laretta Houston with St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, beaches serving as an idyllic backdrop.
The issue hits newsstands May 19.
“When I got the call, I was just floored,” the 41-year-old Bird said in a video clip released by SI. “Like super excited, but at the same time a mind-blowing kind of moment. Obviously, I’ve seen the magazine for years and years and years. Megan (Rapinoe) my fiancée was in it so I’m kind of aware what it’s all about. To actually be invited (and) to know what they’re celebrating, it’s amazing.”
Bird also said the SI swimsuit issue “has been iconic and has represented a lot for women.”
“Now you are seeing an evolution in what that can mean and what that can look like, and I think the WNBA players being a part of that is what makes it special,” she said. “There is no better group of women to showcase that evolution.”
Bird, a four-time WNBA champion and the league’s all-time assists leader, and Stewart, a two-time champion and 2018 MVP, were voted among the league’s top 25 all-time greats last year.
SI chose the five WNBA players in part to highlight their off-the-court efforts as social-justice activists.
“These players not only dominate on the court, but are tirelessly leading the charge in speaking out on social-justice issues, fighting for racial justice and equality and working together to create sustainable change,” SI Swimsuit Editor-In-Chief MJ Day said in a statement.
Last year, Bird co-founded TOGETHXR, a digital media platform focusing on women’s sports coverage. Stewart, the 2020 SI Sportsperson of the Year, has been a vocal advocate for gender and racial equality.
“This is who we are; this is the makeup of our league,” Bird, 41, told SI Swimsuit. “We represent a variety of things: of course women, women of color, members of the LGBTQIA2+ community and much more.”
The 27-year-old Stewart said: “A message to the younger generation would be to continue to work hard, continue to follow your dreams. Women are doing something special right now for your generation so that you can continue to build on it and be the best that you can be.”
The Storm stars are no strangers to baring their bodies in a national magazine.
In 2018, Bird and Rapinoe were the first openly gay couple on the cover of ESPN’s ‘Body Issue,’ which features nude and scantily clad female and male athletes.
Stewart also posed nude for one of the publication’s 10 covers that celebrated its 10th edition.