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Highlights From SI Swimsuit’s WNBA Stars’ Eventful Season

Season 26 was big from Sue Bird’s final year to Breanna Stewart’s record-breaking season.

It’s been an action-packed season for the WNBA on and off the court, especially for the five players who appeared in the 2022 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this spring. Prior to the start of the season Sue Bird, DiDi Richards, Breanna Stewart, Nneka Ogwumike and Te’a Cooper stepped out of their uniforms to join the SI Swim in St. Thomas for a photo shoot. The WNBA is wrapping up their 26th season, which started in early May and will finish up its regular season on August 14. Ahead of the playoffs, we look at five moments worth highlighting from Bird’s final home game to Ogwumike meeting former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Sue Bird

Though her final home game ended with a loss to the Las Vegas Aces, the Seattle Storm guard’s career was celebrated throughout the Climate Pledge Arena on August 7. The sold-out crowd of over 18,000 gave her a proper sendoff. “I just want to say from the bottom of my heart how thankful I am, not only for today and all of you showing up and supporting us but for 21 years,” Bird said to the fans. “I mean listen, I’m not going to lie, it kind of sucks to lose my last game, but you know what, I lost my first game, too, so it’s O.K.”

DiDi Richards

The New York Liberty player didn’t let an injury to her right hamstring get her down. In her second pro season the 23-year-old was the ultimate good sport as she showed up to the games to cheer on her teammates (she saw action in just 14 games). She may have not been able to hit those three-pointers on the court, but she absolutely scored with her looks.

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Breanna Stewart

There have been countless NBA players with their own sneaker lines (hello Air Jordans!) but only a handful of WNBA players have been afforded the same opportunity (and honor). Stewart now joins the ranks with the Puma Stewie 1, the first publicly available signature shoe of a WNBA player in over a decade. It’s also the brand’s first signature sneaker for the league. “I think having my own signature shoe is obviously a dream come true,” Stewart told SI prior to the July shoe release. “When I was little, it’s like you’re playing basketball and you’re looking up to all these amazing role models. Now being able to put that in reverse and be that role model and hopefully have a lot of young kids be wearing the Stewie 1s and seeing what I’m doing on the court and then trying to emulate that in the shoe is something that’s really inspirational to me.” Stewart is also impressively leading the league in scoring this season.

Nneka Ogwumike

The Los Angeles Sparks power forward had a night to remember during the Culture of Democracy Summit in Los Angeles in June where Ogwimke spoke on a panel and also met the former first lady, Michelle Obama who was the keynote speaker. “Thank you @michelleobama & @whenweallvote for amplifying and celebrating our intersections as we look to make this country better for EVERYONE. Thank you @carichampion for always fiercely representing women in power and women with platforms,” she wrote on Instagram. “And a special S/O to two of our greatest advocates Doc & my fellow Prez CJ; it’s always an honor to share space and perspective to better enlighten and engage our communities. | Culture of Democracy Summit: The Intersection of Sports & Democracy #TheFutureIsFemale

Te’a Cooper

Much of Te’a Cooper’s season was spent in front of the lights–camera lights that is. On May 4, she was waived by the Sparks, which allowed her to pursue other ventures including modeling. The 25-year-old was a cover star for SET Media. “I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to be on it’s myself,” she captioned one of the images from the shoot on Instagram.