12 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Models From The Last 50 Years

What is sexy? As shown by this retrospective of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition’s past fifty years of covers and models, the definition is always changing.

With the 51st SI Swim issue set to land next month, we thought why not take a walk down memory lane and see the different models (and styles) from the past fifty years. Check out ten covers below featuring Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, Elle Macpherson, Christie Brinkley and more!


1964 – Babette March

The first cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit edition featured German model Babette March. Wearing a two piece swimsuit look and caught in mid-laugh, the cover is pretty tame for today’s standards.


1967 – Marilyn Tindall

Marilyn Tindall landed the 1967 cover, wearing a red-hot cut-out swimsuit look. Her body is considered more soft and curvy for today’s swimsuit model standards, but was ideal at the time.


1970 – Cheryl Tiegs

American supermodel Cheryl Tiegs had one of the most “modest” covers. Her 1970 image features a sweater paired with a bikini bottom and orange sunglasses. Tiegs would go on to cover two more Swimsuit Issues.


1979 – Christie Brinkley

Christie Brinkley showcased her smile and buxom figure for the magazine’s 1979 cover in a bedazzled one-piece. Her All-American looks helped her land two more SI Swimsuit covers for 1980 and 1981.


1988 – Elle Macpherson

Elle Macpherson aka as “The Body” helped usher in the era of more toned physiques for the magazine. Her plunging one-piece scuba suit in black made a bold statement. Macpherson is currently the model with the most SI Swim covers with a total of 5 from 1986 to 2006.


1992 – Kathy Ireland

Katy Ireland modeled the high-hip style bikini bottom that became synonymous with 80s and 90s beachwear on SI’s 1992 cover. Ireland would go on to cover two more Swimsuit Issues, and even posed while pregnant in 1994.


1997 – Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks was the first black model to land a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover in 1997. The American model flaunted a lot of cleavage in her red and pink polka dot bikini. The 90s and 00s also ushered in an era of models with fuller busts.


2003 – Petra Nemcova

Czech model Petra Nemcova landed the 2003 cover. The risqué image featured the blonde undoing her bikini bottoms for one of the more provocative covers.


2012 – Kate Upton

One of the most popular swimsuit models working today is no doubt Kate Upton. The model landed her first SI Swim cover in 2012 wearing a teeny weeny bikini, and went on to pose in Antartica for the 2013 cover.


2014 – Nina Agdal, Lily Aldridge & Chrissy Teigen

Marking the first multi-model cover since 2006, models Chrissy Teigen, Lily Alidridge and Nina Agdal showed their backsides in the image. Could this be the era of booty for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit?