WNBA players prove irrefutably that beauty, brains and basketball are not diametrically opposing concepts.
The women stunned pop culture with their reveal in the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue that is due to hit newsstands on May 19, 2022
The statuesque quintet was photographed on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands by photographer Laretta Cooper and the unveiling coincides with the beginning of the WNBA’s 26th season which began May 6.
Sports Illustrated paid homage to the league by casting five of its stars as 2022 swimsuit models: L.A. Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, New York Liberty guard DiDi Richards, Storm forward Breanna Stewart, and free-agent guard Te’a Cooper.
Richards, for one, has always envisioned herself being featured in the iconic magazine’s annual swimsuit edition. But to actually manifest that dream as a rookie was surreal.
“It’s been a dream my entire life so it’s crazy to be featured [in the issue], especially after my first year in the WNBA,” Richards, 23, told SI Swim. “It was very humbling. My emotions were all over the place. I was like ‘Am I even supposed to be here?’”
SI Swim continues to exemplify progressiveness in its edition by featuring its first-ever pregnant model, while another unabashedly displayed her postpartum scar from a C-section.
Cooper echoed Richards’ sentiments that the whole experience was “overwhelming” and humbling.
“It says ‘sports’ but they always looked like models, so I would have never thought one day I would be one,” Cooper told the publication. “It was very empowering to be a part of this because of the people I did it with. Everybody’s story was different and just spending time with them, us all being in the WNBA as professionals were overwhelming.”