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Coveted Cover1 of 14
There’s something about the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that can make an up-and-coming model into a household name or catapult an already successful model to superstardom. From Heidi to Tyra, we’re taking a look back at our favorite cover subjects and how the issue changed their careers.
Bar Refaeli2 of 14
In 2007, model Bar Refaeli became the first Israeli to appear in the Swimsuit issue, before becoming the magazine’s cover girl the following year. Allegedly, Bar told friends, “They tell you that you better not go on a diet before the shoot. And they just let you eat all the time.”
Yamila Diaz-Rahi3 of 14
The Argentinean beauty Yamila Diaz-Rahi was featured on the “Red Hot in Latin America” 2002 cover of SI and then again on the 2006 group “All Star” cover. 2001’s cover introduced her as “Red Hot,” and her red bikini was accented with silver and coral jewelry for a Latin-American style vibe.
Beyoncé Knowles4 of 14
The stunning singer Beyoncé Knowles shocked subscribers in 2007 as the first non-model/non-athlete to pose for the cover of the SI Swimsuit issue. Her sporty metallic bikini would have showed off her curves just as well on stage as it did on the closed set in Key Biscayne, Florida.
Brooklyn Decker5 of 14
After years of gracing the magazine’s pages, the athletic and golden-blonde model Brooklyn Decker made her Sports Illustrated cover debut in 2010, looking laid back in little more than a bikini bottom and a peace sign. The NY Daily News reported that as soon as the cover was announced, Brooklyn tweeted, "THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! I wish I could respond to every single one of you but thank you so much for your AMAZINGLY sweet tweets!"
Heidi Klum6 of 14
While Heidi Klum may now be an internationally recognized fashion model, a Victoria’s Secret Angel and host of the television show Project Runway, it was her 1998 sexy-girl-next-door SI cover debut that made the style icon a household name. The voluptuous model is known for her killer body, but she told People magazine that year, "My smile is my favorite thing."
Petra Nemcova7 of 14
Petra Nemcova appeared in the Swimsuit issue from 2002-2006 and was featured on the magazine’s cover in 2004. Yet this model’s beauty is not just skin-deep, having become an active philanthropist after surviving the 2004 tsunami in Thailand that took the life of her fiancé, photographer Simon Atlee.
Rebecca Romijn8 of 14
The model-turned-actress Rebecca Romijn flaunted her athletic beach body in a barely there silver mesh bikini on the cover of SI in 1999 before turning her attention to the big screen.
Elle Macpherson9 of 14
Having already become an internationally recognized model whose work in the fashion industry continues to this day, Elle Macpherson cemented her status as one of the 1980s famed “Supermodels” when she was chosen for the SI Swimsuit cover a record five times over three decades beginning in 1986. Elle’s 1988 cover featured a leather one-piece with a plunging neckline: a style worth of a serious '80s sex symbol.
Tyra Banks10 of 14
After posing with Valeria Mazza for the cover in 1996, Tyra Banks, an already illustrious fashion model and the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of SI, had her first solo Sports Illustrated spotlight in 1997. The model has infamously said that, “Black women don't have the same body image problems as white women. They are proud of their bodies.”
Rachel Hunter11 of 14
In 1994, Rachel Hunter appeared pregnant on the Sports Illustrated cover along with Kathy Ireland and an also-pregnant Elle Macpherson. The models were famously dubbed as the issue’s “Dream Team,” and all three wore simple, black string bikinis.
Daniela Pestova12 of 14
Daniela Pestova has graced the SI cover three times, beginning in 1995, and was nicknamed “The Chameleon” because of her ever-evolving look. In 1995 it was a striped T-shirt in an ode to '90s minimalism; 2000’s cover featured the blond model in a string of beads, capturing the bohemian chic style that was everywhere. And in 2006 she sported a one-piece with cut-outs that was emblematic of a more modern style.
Christie Brinkley & Cheryl Tiegs13 of 14
Christie Brinkley’s all-American look led to three consecutive SI Swimsuit covers beginning in 1979, when she posed in a disco-worthy sequin-embellished suit. Cheryl Tiegs also posed for three covers, beginning in 1970, and became one of the decade’s style icons.
Carolyn Murphy14 of 14
In 2005 a fresh-faced Carolyn Murphy appeared on the SI Swimsuit cover. With an exclusive Estée Lauder contract and plenty of face time in Vogue, it’s clear why she was again chosen for the widely publicized 2006 “All Star” SI cover. Although she reportedly once said, “I never thought I'd make the pages of Sports Illustrated, because I've always been skinny. But after I had my daughter, I had hips.”