- This year, five WNBA players were featured in Sports Illustrated’s iconic swimsuit issue.
- Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Te’a Cooper, Nneka Ogwumike and DiDi Richards posed in the US Virgin Islands.
- The SI Swimsuit editor-in-chief said she was “thrilled to have such a badass group of women” involved.
Five WNBA stars – Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Te’a Cooper, Nneka Ogwumike and DiDi Richards – posed for photographer Laretta Houston in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for the 2022 issue of Sports Illustrated on swimsuits. For Bird, a 20-year WNBA veteran and league legend, player involvement represents an opportunity to “showcase (the) evolution” of SI’s swimsuit issue.
“We represent a variety of things: of course women, women of color, members of the LGBTQIA2+ community and much more,” Bird said. Dorothy J. Gentry from Sports Illustrated. “The (swimsuit) issue has been iconic for so many years and has represented a lot of things to women. Now you see an evolution in what that can mean and what it can look like, and I think that WNBA players are a part of it. That’s what makes it special.”
And according to Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor MJ Day, the brand “couldn’t be more excited to see such a badass group of women come together for this specific issue.”
“These players not only dominate on the field, but tirelessly lead the charge in speaking out on social justice issues – fighting for racial justice and equality and working together to create lasting change,” said Day in a press release. “Their participation in this year’s issue couldn’t come at a better time with the launch of Pay With Change and the work we’re doing to evolve and grow our brand.”
In January of this year, Sports Illustrated announced its “Pay With Change” program gender equity advertising initiative around its famous swimsuit number. As part of the effort, Sports Illustrated will only allow brands with “demonstrated programs to advance gender equality” to advertise on the Swimsuit platform.
Companies that meet this criteria will create ads for the campaign that showcase their gender equality efforts. And Sports Illustrated has committed to contributing one percent of every advertising dollar to its Gender Equality Fund, which supports nonprofit organizations in the field of women’s empowerment.
WNBA players — who have “always been at the forefront of social issues,” Stewart told Gentry — perfectly embody the ideals of the new swimsuit look.
“It’s so amazing to see and understand that we are living in history,” added Ogwumike, the Los Angeles Sparks superstar and president of the WNBA Players Association. “I love the differences we celebrate and move them forward.”
The 2022 WNBA regular season kicked off Friday and fans can watch Bird, Stewart, Ogwumike and Richards play through August. Cooper, who was previously Ogwumike’s teammate on the Sparks, was waived by the team before the regular season.
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