Q&A With SI Swimsuit Legend Sue Bird

The retired WNBA star posed for this year’s 60th anniversary photo shoot.
Sue Bird was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. Suit by Alice + Olivia. Shoes by Nike. Jewelry by Charlie Lapson.
Sue Bird was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. Suit by Alice + Olivia. Shoes by Nike. Jewelry by Charlie Lapson. / Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

Turning 60 has never looked so good. To celebrate the big milestone in style, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit called upon 27 “Legends”—women of all ages, sizes, tribes and backgrounds—who epitomize trailblazing influence and game-changing impact. 

From supermodel OGs who made their first splash on the magazine’s glossy pages in the 1970s and ’80s to stars newer to the SI Swimsuit sisterhood—the Legends symbolize diversity, inclusivity, empowerment and self-love.  

“The Legends hold the power to represent the collective us,” SI Swimsuit editor in chief MJ Day says. “Each one has played a significant role in the brand’s last 10 years, holding important conversations that have helped shift societal perceptions and led to incredible change for women.” 

The Legends had plenty to say in their one-on-one interviews, held during a three-day SI Swimsuit event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., where photo shoots for the 60th anniversary issue were underway amidst a flurry of glam teams, wardrobe stylists and veteran fashion lensmen. The Legends were unfiltered, funny, wise, compassionate, profound, and at times, searingly honest—proving that a woman’s inner beauty is her most important superpower of all.   

See more from the Legends photo shoot here.

Sue Bird is a reitred professional basketball player, WNBA Champion and All Star. She first appeared in the SI Swimsuit issue back in 2022, when she posed alongside fellow WNBA stars in St. Thomas. This year, she returns to the magazine for the second time, posing for the Legends photo shoot in Hollywood, Fla.

What does being an SI Swimsuit Legend mean to you? 

“It’s an honor to be amongst this group of women. When I participated in the photo shoot two years ago, it was such a wonderful expression of women’s empowerment and celebrating what WNBA players were doing on the court and off the court. 

“To think of all the other women and their stories, and just really understanding that this is about empowerment and showing the differences between all of us, but that’s a good thing. It’s really special to be a part of something like this.”

Sue Bird
Sue Bird was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. Suit by Alice + Olivia. Shoes by Nike. Jewelry by Charlie Lapson. / Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

View Sue Bird’s 2024 Legends photo gallery here.

What do you love most about being a woman? 

“There are a lot of difficulties with being a woman, right? Just in terms of how society is set up, sexism, all these things. But what’s so beautiful about being a woman is when you’re around other women, we always find a way to come together, we [create] community and we collaborate. It’s such a special place to be in when that’s happening. It does bring out the best in the group, it does bring out the best in you as an individual. I’ve really gotten so much strength from all the other women that I’ve encountered in my life. I love that.”

What do you love most about being yourself? 

“I’ve really committed to the journey that is me and seeing what it’s not about… likes and dislikes. It’s about figuring out more of who I am, and trying to be 100%, unapologetically myself at all times. I came to accept that it’s not about pleasing people. 

“Especially as an athlete, there’s a little bit of people-pleasing. You’re trying to please your coach, you’re trying to do right by your team. 

“What I’ve really enjoyed is all the things I learned from the sport, and now that I’m in my second act, combining those skills with the understanding that you really have to just show up as yourself, right? You’d rather have people who know you or follow you or want to be near you because you’re being yourself versus trying to people please, because then that’s not really authentic.”

What can women do to better empower each other? 

“The combination of letting go of perfectionism and simultaneously showing yourself grace in the moments that you’re not being kind to yourself, is truly how you can empower yourself and others.”

What excites you most about your life right now? 

“I’m part of two companies. One is Togethxr, but it’s pronounced ‘together,’ and that is a media and commerce company. We have had a lot of different hands and a lot of different pots. Recently, we made a T-shirt that says on the front, ‘Everyone Watches Women’s Sports.’ It’s like wildfire, it caught on amazingly well. It’s not about the actual selling of the shirt. It’s that when people wear it, they believe in it. It’s really been a big part of the push around women’s sports we’ve seen recently, so I’m really proud of that. 

“The second one is called A Touch More, it’s a production company that Megan [Rapinoe] and I started. Now that we’re both retired, we can really start to dig in. We just announced one of our first projects—we’re going to turn a really popular book into a TV show. Hopefully, that’s just one of many projects we’ll be announcing soon. It’s really exciting.”

Sue Bird
Sue Bird was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. Suit by Alice + Olivia. Shoes by Nike. Jewelry by Charlie Lapson. / Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

Favorite quote.

“‘Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.’ I got it from a friend of mine who was in a car accident when we were in high school, and he was left paralyzed. That kind of became his mantra. It was less about the quote and more about him because it always gave me perspective. If this is how he's reacted to this tough moment, basketball is just the game.” 


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Martha Zaytoun

MARTHA ZAYTOUN

Martha Zaytoun is a Lifestyle & Trending News writer for SI Swimsuit. Before joining the team, Martha worked on the editorial board of the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine and on the editorial team at Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines in North Carolina. When not working, Martha loves to watercolor and oil paint, run or water ski. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge Fighting Irish fan.