Tyra Banks Comes Out of Modeling Retirement for 'Sports Illustrated' Cover

The 45-year-old previously made history in 1997 as the first black woman to earn a solo cover spot for the publication's annual swimsuit edition.

Tyra Banks is once again a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl. The 45-year-old supermodel graces one of three covers for the 2019 edition of the annual issue. In her photo, shot by Laretta Houston in the Bahamas, Banks smizes in a tiny yellow string bikini from Andi Bagus.

"My first one was 23 years ago. How crazy is that?" the America's Next Top Model creator said Wednesday morning during an appearance on Good Morning America, not long after her cover was revealed. "I’m like damn — I’m 45, dog!"

Banks made her S.I. Swimsuit debut in 1993. In 1996, she appeared on the cover for the first time alongside fellow model Valeria Mazza. Then, one year later in 1997, Banks made history as the first black woman to earn a solo cover spot.

Inside this year's edition, Banks told GMA that she paid homage to the now-iconic two-piece she wore for the 1997 cover. "We couldn’t find the exact one in the archives — it was the polka-dot bikini so we re-created that bikini," she said. "I re-created it — 25 pounds heavier."

Banks isn't the only one who can call herself an S.I. Swimsuit cover star this year. U.S. national women’s soccer player and Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan and 2018 S.I. Swimsuit model search winner Camille Kostek also have their own skin-baring covers.

In a statement, S.I. Swimsuit editor MJ Day — who has helmed the magazine's annual issue for seven years — explained why Banks, Morgan and Kostek were chosen. "The three women that make up the covers of the 2019 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue represent the brand in the most powerful way possible. While each individual woman is so unique, they come together cohesively to tell a spectacular story," Day said. "Since Tyra’s first cover in 1996, she’s transformed herself into nothing less than a mogul, a cultural force and a supernova of inspiration and empowerment. She’s kind of the Swimsuit issue ethos come to life, everything we know this franchise can be. 

Added Day, "Alex Morgan stands for feminine strength and power — using her voice to fight for gender discrimination and equal pay, and Camille Kostek, only a year after we discovered her in our annual model search casting, marks the launch of a career swimming in potential. These women emulate determination to own who they are and demonstrate how limitless they can be."

The theme for the 56th installment of the S.I. Swimsuit issue is "Shattering Perceptions." Aptly, this year marks the first time the magazine has ever featured a hijab-wearing model: Somali American beauty Halima Aden, who rocks the traditional Muslim headpiece in her editorial, as well as an array of burkinis that offer full coverage.

See Banks' S.I. Swimsuit cover below.