For decades, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been a major highlight of the magazine’s year. Even with the rise of the Internet offering more selections of beautiful women in skimpy (or nothing at all) clothing, there’s something about the SI issue that stands out. The selection of amazing models, the international locales, the poses, it all combines into a package that remains a must-see issue for its readers and still one to grab. The list of women who have appeared in it is long and includes some of the hottest super-models of the last four decades and is likely to add more as time as gone on.
But SI hasn’t forgotten the “sports” part of their name. In the last several years, there has been more of a push for actual athletes to join these models in appearances for the magazine. Naturally, they’re chosen for looks but quite a few of them are able to back it up as true champions and stars with awards often even more numerous than men. It’s a balancing act for women to remain beautiful while still respected for achievements and even more so in a swimsuit. However, these ladies have managed it very well to highlight an already standout issue. Here are 20 of the most gorgeous athletes to grace the Swimsuit Issue and a reminder why it remains so special.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
20 Alana Blanchard
As a top-rated surfing champion, Blanchard is no stranger to wearing a swimsuit but even so, her spread was notable. By a pool in a pink suit was one thing but posing topless and soaked in a shower was better with her bright smile and proved Blanchard didn’t need a board to be a knockout with water. Blanchard has since done other modeling work, including for the clothing line Rip Curl, a line of wetsuits designed for surfing.
19 Leryn Franco
The Peruvian javelin thrower was part of the 2012 Olympic preview issue and was a stunning standout. Photographed in the jungle of her homeland, she worked everything from a bikini and shorts to a variety of skimpy one-pieces that showcased the heat South American women possess and nailing the camera poses every time. Can we see a repeat of her in the magazine ahead of the 2016 games in Rio?
18 Hannah Teter
The Olympic gold medalist snowboarder stripped down nicely for the 2010 issue. A white bikini with red glove, sometimes a mesh top and leaning on a snowboard, Teter linked herself to her sport while enjoying showing off her great body and in a good fun time as well. Teter's Olympic credentials include a gold medal at the 2006 Olympics in halfpipe. She took home silver in 2010 and just missed out on a medal in Sochi, finishing fourth.
17 Caroline Wozniacki
From her name to her body, Caroline seems better suited for a supermodel than a tennis player. Her SI shoot seems to enhance that, standing in a white bikini by the ocean, a bright smile on her face and looking fantastic all the while. She’s proven she can handle the shoot grind as much as her game and look great either way. Wozniacki appeared in 2015's issue and it seemed long overdue.
16 Steffi Graf
The tennis legend did a stint in SI in 1997 that showed a body far better than most expected. Standing proud in a light bikini was great as was her lying on the sand and jumping through the ocean waves in a red bikini with a great laugh. Graf has been known for intensity on the court but she proved herself quite the looker with this shoot and how sexiness can come from surprising places.
15 Natalie Gulbis
The golfer may not be the champion of others but she more than won a large share of fans with her SI shoot. Wearing a red and black bikini was nice but better was part of the “body paint” spread in a green and white “suit” that accentuated every curve of a body built more for a runway than the golf course and showing where Gulbis’ real strengths lie.
14 Alex Morgan
She may not have a sterling reputation in her personal life but Morgan still has a hot intensity that makes her worth watching. Her SI spread included some great bikini shots on the waves as well as part of the “body paint” stuff which showcased her good body overall. She may be a hot mess at times but still a sports star and you couldn’t help watching in this shoot.
13 Jennie Finch
With her golden tresses and “girl next door” vibe, Finch has been a standout as an Olympic softball champion and various magazine shoots. Her SI spread was perfect in a golden bikini, splashing in the waves and that infectious smile, showing she was having a good time as she deserved for some great glory. Finch refused large financial offers from Playboy to pose nude due to her Christian beliefs.
12 Daniela Hantuchova
Another tennis star on the rise, Daniela Hantuchova has a model’s look and body which she showcased in a good spread, standing on an island beach in a good bikini and looking fabulous doing it. She may not be the same fame as other tennis stars but she more than showed she has the goods in other ways. Her success on the court includes a couple of finals appearances in the Australian Open.
11 Venus Williams
As one half of the greatest siblings in tennis, the gorgeous star is known for her strength and style and that carried over to her SI shoot. In a variety of bikinis, she showed off the intensity she brings to her game but also a bright smile, proving she can be comfortable in or out of her usual element. She's more than willing to go against any of the hot professional models out there.
10 Natalie Coughlin
The swimming star had one of the more unique shoots for Sports Illustrated in that she was, basically naked. It was the famed the “body paint” spread with Coughlin wearing a one-strap blue paint job that was so well detailed, it looked like actual cloth at first glance. If nothing else, Coughlin managed to work it nicely to set off her great body and highlight an already hot spread.
9 Lindsey Vonn
The ski star is known for a slick style racing but she showed nicely what was under her suit in a memorable spread. One on the beach on a surfboard was nice but far better was her in a snowy mountain in fur boots, cap and red bikini, a wild image but Vonn pulled it off (while admitting how damn cold she was). She was a trooper however for a shoot perfectly fitting for her sport and the fun style that’s made her a star to watch.
8 Ana Ivanovic
SI sure does love their tennis stars and Ana Ivanovic was one of the better ones shown. The former French Open winner had a great shoot, with her hot yellow bikini on a tennis court with net, she was suave and stylish. Also, a bit of her lying on a pool of pink balls in a matching color bikini and a nice smile to match her mood, making her stand out a lot more.
7 Danica Patrick
The NASCAR starlet showed she could be very hot under that race suit. Her shot at the beach in a white bikini with racing gloves was nice but also great seeing her stretched out in a car in a hot bikini and showing her unique back tattoo. She may not have a big racing championship but Patrick proved she can handle more curves than just on the race track.
6 Anna Kournikova
She’s always been more famous for her looks than her tennis game and the Russian starlet lived up to that with her memorable SI shoot. From a white bikini to a nice pink suit to a silver mesh mix as well as the cover of her topless, Kournikova showed off nicely and how she may not have had game on the court but plenty for this shoot. She has not played for the WTA tour since 2003, but has still gotten the public's attention, for obvious reasons.
5 Serena Williams
The multiple time tennis champion dominated in her shoot as well as she does on the court. A great black swimsuit to offset her ebony skin and a later white bikini gave her a bright appearance, accenting her terrific curves and full figure that she could flaunt nicely. She wasn’t the size zero of others but could work a suit well to show her champion form off.
4 Amanda Beard
No stranger at all to a swimsuit, the seven-time Olympic medalist fit in well for the 2005 SI issue, everything from a bikini to long swim trunks and topless with arms covering her breasts. It was a sensational spread and would give Beard the confidence to do a nude spread in Playboy a few years later. Beard would fail to make the swim team for the 2012 Olympics, but she has not officially retired from the sport.
3 Gabrielle Reece
As a volleyball player, Reece is used to showing off her body in a swimsuit and also for her career as a fitness expert and author. She also memorably doffed it all in a Playboy spread but her SI layout is still terrific as her body, muscular but smooth, was nicely shown off in a bikini and her face showing her strength handling it all. Impressive no matter what, Reece was the perfect statuesque beauty for SI and fit in perfectly.
2 Ronda Rousey
The UFC Women's Bantamweight champion keeps saying she prefers not to be judged by her looks but it’s obvious her beauty is a key element to her popularity. She’s all business in the octagon but she stripped down quite nicely for SI, rocking a stunning swimsuit, bikini and, most memorably, clearly topless under a mesh top. Yet she still showed the intensity that’s made her a star and the fierce determination to excel no matter what…and she more than did that for SI.
1 Maria Sharapova
The only Russian to hold a Grand Slam, Sharapova has proven herself as one of the best tennis players on the planet, far more than just a pretty face. But there’s no denying she has one as well as an incredible body and her spread in SI in 2006 certainly proved that. A bikini tight on her body, her long blonde hair billowing, Sharapova was just at home on a beach as she is on a tennis court and a champion both ways. She’s a true master of her craft and the perfect package of a champion player who just happens to be gorgeous as hell no matter where.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!