FROM LEFT: Stretch minidress, Gucci ($2,275). Double-bird-head cuff bracelet, M.C.L. by Matthew Campbell Laurenza ($2,190). Neiman Marcus, Hypnose ring with diamonds, Cartier ($42,300). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-8793; Black silk tuxedo, Dolce & Gabbana ($3, 495). Diamond Agraffe Panthere necklace, Cartier (price upon request ). Bar Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-864-8793. Diamond and pearl Triadra Flora ring, Di Modolo ($12,500).; Asymmetrial jersey dress ($2,725) and Collier de Chien belt ($2, 025), Hermes. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-868-0118. Diamond Tempia chain bracelet, Di Modolo ($49,500). Pave-diamons domed ring, Graff (price upon request). Bar Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-993-1212

Of all the places you’d expect a fashion model to be rushing off to—some trendy boîte, the back of the motorcycle of the Hollywood lothario du jour, perhaps even the corner bodega for a pack of American Spirits—a tennis court might be right near the bottom of the list of guesses. Nonetheless, that is exactly where 22-year-old Hilary Rhoda is headed on a sterling summer Thursday afternoon for a scheduled match. Of course, if you’re familiar with Rhoda’s signature look—lithe, lean and poised—this should not come as a total surprise. “I’m athletic,” she explains. “I did ballet for a long time growing up. I played lacrosse and field hockey.” Indeed, colleges were recruiting her for her hockey skills at the all-girls Academy of the Holy Cross in suburban Maryland, just as the New York City modeling agencies were extending offers. Even then, starting out in 2002, “from the beginning, I knew I wasn’t going to change into some emaciated look,” she says. “Playing sports is my background. I have an athletic build—you can take it or leave it.”

Most votes would be for “take it,” especially after her rookie appearance, last spring, in Sports Illustrated’s famous, fleshtastic annual Swimsuit Edition. That assignment, on the tiny Caribbean island of Canouan, “was something totally different,” she says. Yes, she had been named to the “new crop of supermodels” (a term, by the way, that she thinks “is dead… or at least overused”), but previously her work had been mostly high-fashion editorial shoots with the likes of Steven Meisel and Bruce Weber, runway work for Balenciaga, Lanvin and Dior, and she’d been the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics. But the chance to kneel in the sand while wearing a Michael Kors bikini or a meshy Gottex maillot? “It’s much more sexy stuff, and I guess I was excited to fit in the category,” she says, laughing. “Ultimately, I think it just means that different people know who you are. More guys know you, who didn’t before.”

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