updated 02/08/2010 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/09/2010 AT 8:00 AM ET
For Brooklyn Decker, the next few months will bring a series of firsts.
The North Carolina-raised model, 22, is celebrating her first-ever time as the cover girl on the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue – a spot she landed after five years of posing for the magazine.
“It’s shocking and a dream come true!” Decker told PEOPLE shortly after learning that her photo would grace this year’s cover.
Another first? Doing a round of talk show interviews to promote her prestigious job. “I’ve never been on one! I’m kind of freaking out,” she said before appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday. “I’ve done news shows, but I’ve never done a big talk show.”
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So how did her family react when they saw the photos of her clad in a yellow Delfina bikini? “My mom cried,” says Decker. The photos were shot in the Maldives by award-winning sports photographer Walter Iooss and inspired by ’80s and ’90s SI covers featuring Elle Macpherson and Rachel Hunter.
“We’re all on pins and needles before the issue comes out, because the cover is something all the girls want so badly,” says Decker. “So it’s nice for my family because they don’t have to stress about it anymore.”
After the flurry of parties and media appearances – including spots on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show – Decker will take time for another very important first: Her one-year wedding anniversary in April with tennis champ Andy Roddick, whom she says is 100-percent supportive of her latest accomplishment.