Tyra Banks shows off her bikini bod on her third Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, more than 20 years after she first debuted as a model for the hotly-anticipated issue and as the first woman of color to ever grace the cover.
Entertainment Tonight reported that this issue is important for Banks as well, as it honors her return to the world of modeling after a hiatus of 13 years. She “retired” from the business at the age of 32. She is now welcomed back with open arms at 45-years-old and a mother of one.
Banks revealed in an interview with The New York Times why she left the world of modeling when she was still at the top of her game professionally, explaining that she walked out of the high-pressure business with “a three-year contract on the table” and readied herself for the next stage of her career, which included some acting roles, the creation of the juggernaut reality modeling competition series America’s Next Top Model, writing, and directing.
Banks would also become a mother via surrogate of a son, York Banks Asala, with her ex Erik Asala in 2016.
She also recalled to the publication that along with her mother, she worked with her strengths as a model instead of against them. Realizing that many bookers wanted women who were tall and ultra-thin, Banks said her mother sat her down “in front of a pizza” and made her make a list of companies that she thought might want to work with her and embrace her differences instead of trying to fit her into their mold of beauty.
One of these businesses was lingerie clothing line Victoria’s Secret, with whom Banks would have a profitable working relationship.
ET reported that Banks sports a tiny, yellow Andi Bagus bikini for the cover, which was shot in Great Exuma, Bahamas. She also donned a red polka-dot bikini in a recreation of one of her most iconic swimsuit looks for the shoot as well.
Also honored with their own covers are soccer star Alex Morgan and model search winner Camille Kostek.
“It changed my life overnight. You have to think back to remember what that did for an appreciation of black beauty to have a black girl, a girl next door type, on the cover of one of the most mass mainstream magazines of our lives. It was a societal statement, a political statement and an economic one,” Banks said of working with Sports Illustrated to TNYT.
SI Swimsuit hit newsstands on Wednesday, May 8.