“Growing up and watching many incredible women grace this cover…it feels like a dream.” Osaka says.
Photographed by @yutsai88 with styling by @karlawelchstylist “@NaomiOsaka is shining bright as on of this year’s cover models! We are thrilled to have Noami join our Sl family and be an encouraging voice and courageous leader for generations to come. What an amazing interview this past spring!” The mag writes on Instagram.
“There’s no question that Naomi is one of the best athletes in the world, and a cover spot felt obvious. She’s spent her formative years racking up titles and is headed to the Olympics. But 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 Illustrator editor-in-chief MJ Day said in a statement.
The theme of the 2021 issue is “Opening Eyes, Speaking Truths and Changing Minds.”
Other cover models include Megan Thee Stallion and Leyna Bloom.
“I’m so proud to be the first Japanese and Haitian woman to grace one of the covers,” Osaka said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. “I feel like that multicultural background is present in all of the things that I do. I try to incorporate it in everything, so hopefully, you see that.”
Just last week, Osaka was also featured on the cover of Vogue Hong Kong where she was highlighted as an Olympic gold medal hopeful in the magazine’s “Women in Sports” special.
The 23 year old four time Grand Slam champ will be representing Japan in the Tokyo Olympics later this month.