Sue Bird was photographed for an iconic SI Swimsuit feature in St. Thomas last year alongside fellow basketball players Breanna Stewart, DiDi Richards, Nneka Ogwumike and Te’a Cooper. She worked with photographer Laretta Houston, who made history in 2019 when she became the first woman to capture an SI Swimsuit Issue cover snapshot (of Tyra Banks in the Bahamas).
The professional athlete, who was the Seattle Storm’s No. 1 draft pick when she was first called up to the league in 2002, led the team to four WNBA championships throughout her two decades as point guard.
The 43-year-old announced her retirement last September on Instagram. The New York native has spent the past year working on numerous passion projects—she is the founder of production company A Touch More and co-founder of media and commerce brand TOGETHXR.
Bird, who is a 13-time WNBA All-Star and five-time Olympic gold medalist, is engaged to USWNT star and OL Reign player Megan Rapinoe, who announced her own retirement this year.
“The fact that I’m 41 [and in the Swimsuit issue], it’s kinda cool to be in here. I’ll speak for myself with this shoot—if I appear confident, that took a lot of time. It’s not like I was born with that. It can feel overwhelming to [feel like you have to] climb a mountain in one day, but that’s not what it is. If you can only get 10 minutes in [for a workout], that’s great,” Bird said about what her career in the spotlight and GOAT status has taught her. “The biggest thing I’ve learned, and this is more recent than you might think—it’s only been probably the last five, six years of my 20-year career—you really have to be kind to yourself… you’re not always going to be perfect. You’re not going to get it right every time, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s when you beat yourself up in those moments that can cause a lot. So, I have really gone out of my way to just be nice to myself, show myself some grace, be kind.”
Below are five of our favorite photos from her 2022 photoshoot in St. Thomas.
Now through Nov. 1, 100% of SI Swimsuit’s portion of proceeds from cover prints purchased here will be donated to the Maui Strong Fund, which is helping to support the people and places of Maui affected by the recent wildfires.