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The Bridge Wrapped 2021: Sports icons who rocked magazine covers

From PV Sindhu to Neeraj Chopra to Simone Biles, athletes stole the show with their oomph on the covers of several magazines. Let's recap the best of them!

PV Sindhu for Harpers Bazaar, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird for GQ and Neeraj Chopra for Vogue

PV Sindhu for Harper's Bazaar, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird for GQ and Neeraj Chopra for Vogue


Sohinee Basu

Published: 23 Dec 2021 5:21 PM GMT

Just like the year dazzled with some spectacular sporting performances and sizzled with moments of glory, 2021 was also the year when athletes turned up the notch and their style quotient as they appeared on the cover of several glossy magazines, making our jaws drop easily with their avatars. While we are used to seeing them in their sporting attire, we never know how they will stun us with their off-the-field and off-the-court outings for the magazines.

With 2021 already being a studded year packed in with the Tokyo Olympics and Tokyo Paralympics, there was all the more reason for some of the best magazines to make a beeline for these sporting icons. Trading their usual garb, PV Sindhu, Neeraj Chopra, Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles, Bhavani Devi, et al posed for the camera and made us sit up and notice them all the more, but in a different light. Setting powerful messages or simply delivering on the glamourous factor, these athletes took the magazine covers by storm and left us feeling inspired and enamored by their personality at the same time.

Let's take a look at some of the best magazine covers of 2021 where our athletes appeared:

1. Vogue India - PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu for Vogue India

Nowhere better to start than with the Queen of Badminton herself - PV Sindhu. In 2021, PV Sindhu etched her name further in the pages of history by becoming the first Indian woman to win two medals at the Olympics when she won the bronze in Tokyo whilst being the reigning World Champion back then, as well. We ask you to join us in admiring this queen who has really redefined what it means to be the poster girl for badminton.

2. Harper's Bazaar India - PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu for Harper's Bazaar

Yes, it has been a few months since we came across this - but the magnetic nature of this photoshoot is still getting to us. Perhaps it is the metallic tones of the outfit or the make-up, or the very grit in her eyes - there is just something about this picture that makes Sindhu look right in her element.

3. Vogue India - Mirabai Chanu

Mirabai Chanu for Vogue India

Mirabai Chanu might look all diminutive and all but she commands power all right. The Tokyo Olympics silver medallist stunned on the cover of Vogue as well with this outing - we'd love to see her dazzle on the cover more!

4. Vogue India - Lovlina Borgohain

Lovlina Borgohain for Vogue India

Lovlina, tall and lanky as she is, was also quite the shy girl who would get afraid before entering the ring for her bouts. But at the Tokyo Olympics, there was none of that fear definitely in her eyes as she went on to claim the bronze medal there to become the first Olympic medallist from Assam and a girl at that too. In this outing for Vogue India, it has been very difficult for us to take our eyes off this fetching look - the oomph she is packing in has us floored!

5. Spice - Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra for India Today's Spice magazine

Suave, stylish - that's what Neeraj Chopra, the golden boy of the nation, wanted to portray in his outing for Spice magazine and he has nailed it. The purple adds to the regality of his persona - especially after his Olympic feats. But it also channelizes his easy charm and we cannot get enough of this fashionable side of Neeraj Chopra.

6. Vogue India - Neeraj Chopra

Neeraj Chopra for Vogue India

Vogue knows how to play with moods and in this outing, Neeraj Chopra's outfits are all-too moody, setting the tone for winter and the cozy season. Keeping the hues warm even if it is in black and white, these pictures are such a pleasure for the eye and refreshing too - as we see another side of Chopra, really letting loose and getting comfortable and channeling the spirit of the season.

7. Femina India - Bhavani Devi, Mirabai Chanu and Rani Rampal

Fencer Bhavani Devi, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and hockey captain Rani Rampal for Femina India

We got women power covered right here as Femina India featured three wonderful athletes on their cover. With inspiring stories to offer, this motley mix of the 3 Olympians are truly moving and yes, we can take a lesson or two from then about rocking a magazine cover for sure.

8. Forbes - Rani Rampal

Rani Rampal for Forbes India

Remember that Bruno Mars song...where he says he wants to be on the cover of the Forbes magazine? Well, Rani Rampal has gone out there and lived it and she is a fetching image at it too, sharing the cover with the likes of other powerful women like Sanya Malhotra, Aparna Purohit, and Vineeta Singh, who are all self-made. Congratulations, Rani, you did emerge to be quite the Queen.

9. GQ - Sunil Chhetri

Sunil Chhetri for GQ India

While our Olympians and Paralympians donned the covers well, our very own Indian team football captain cannot be left too far behind too and Sunil Chhetri made it to the cover of the GQ magazine and his easy charm always manages to woo us.

A few special mentions to magazine covers that also left us wowing:

10. TIME - Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka for TIME

Phew, how can we even make a list without this all-important Naomi Osaka cover for TIME magazine where the ace tennis player made it known that 'It's OK to not be OK' and delivered a strong message on mental health and its importance for athletes. Osaka's decision to pull out of the French Open 2021 created quite the uproar when she mentioned mental health reasons - but in retrospect, Osaka's act became a statement one that has been lauded by every athlete as it started the discussion of mental health safe-keeping of athletes, all over again.

11. Sports Illustrated - Simone Biles

Simone Biles for Sports Illustrated

The GOAT of gymnastics, Simone Biles was supposed to head into the Tokyo Olympics and repeat her deeds from 2016 and grow her legend as the GOAT. But Biles took a very different step at the Olympics and decided to sit out of individual events after suffering from a case of 'twisties' and cited mental health reasons for staying away from competition on such a big stage, showing how the mental health of the athlete matters more than a medal. Hailed as the Athlete of the Year by TIME magazine as well, Biles was the talk of the Olympics for sure for her statement act.

12. GQ - Tom Daley

Tom Daley for GQ

We love Tom Daley - for everything he is and there is never any denying of that. Be it as an athlete or an icon for the LGBTQ+ people or for his skills with knitting, we cannot get enough of this British star and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist diver. We will just admire.

13. Wonderland - Tom Daley

Tom Daley for Wonderland

We are yet to find a gold medallist this charming and easy on the eyes. Tom Daley sure knows how to look the part for magazine covers - be it under the water or over it, and we cannot get enough of this star athlete.

14. GQ - Modern Lovers

Naomi Osaka and Cordae (left) and Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird for GQ

Perhaps one of the most powerful cover outings by GQ from February 2021. Sending strong messages about 'modern love', this is a very prized issue and if pictures are supposed to speak a thousand words, these are saying so much more.

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