Naomi Osaka Lands Cover of 2021 SI Swimsuit Issue

Adam WellsJuly 19, 2021

FILE - In this May 30, 2021, file photo, Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates after defeating Romania's Patricia Maria Tig during a first-round match of the French Ppen tennis tournament at Roland Garros stadium in Paris. Osaka returned to the spotlight for the first time since withdrawing from the French Open in May and skipping Wimbledon, posing on the red carpet at The ESPYS on Saturday night, July 10. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File)
AP Photo/Christophe Ena, File

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka will be one of the cover stars for the 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. 

SI unveiled the cover on Monday, featuring the reigning Australian Open champion:

Yahoo Life @yahoolife

Naomi Osaka makes her 'Sports Illustrated Swimsuit' debut on 2021 cover: ‘It feels like a dream' <a href="https://t.co/ifrwW6RRWi">https://t.co/ifrwW6RRWi</a> <a href="https://t.co/LmGJyPS4VC">pic.twitter.com/LmGJyPS4VC</a>

Osaka spoke in a video interview with Sports Illustrated about what being the cover model means to her (h/t Kerry Justich of Yahoo Life):

"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 involves 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."

The 23-year-old recently withdrew from the French Open after the first round and didn't participate in Wimbledon, citing mental health concerns and a desire to spend time with her friends and family. 

Osaka is in Tokyo preparing to represent the host nation in the Olympic Games. She will compete in the women's singles competition starting on July 24. 

"We celebrate Naomi for her passion, strength and power geared toward consistently breaking barriers when it comes to equality, social justice and mental health," Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day told TMZ Sports

Sports Illustrated has three different cover models for this year's issue. Osaka, rap star Megan Thee Stallion and transgender model, actor and activist Leyna Bloom each have their own separate covers. 

The 2021 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue will be released on July 22.