The 36-year-old former S Club 7 singer topped a poll by FHM magazine, despite never taking first place in any of their annual Sexiest Woman Alive surveys.
Rachel – who has children Amelie, three, and Minnie, two months, with husband Alex Bourne – said: “To win this award feels absolutely amazing. I’ve worked with FHM for the past decade and a half, I feel such a strong bond to the magazine, and it’s so flattering to think that people think of me that way. It’s brilliant.”
The pop star has appeared on the sexiest list 11 times in previous years, including taking second place in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and credits the magazine for helping her cultivate a more grown-up image.
She added: “The first cover I shot in 2000 was really exciting, because at that time we were really young – I was 22 – and we were so used to being all kiddy and sweet and nice. It was an opportunity to be a bit more grown up, to be more womanly and sexy.”
The full top 20 Sexiest Women of All Time list also includes Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Brook, Britney Spears, Jennifer Aniston, Louise Redknapp and Halle Berry and can be seen in the new issue of the magazine – which is celebrating 20 years of the famous poll – when it goes on sale on Thursday.
For a behind-the-scenes video from Rachel’s shoot please visit www.fhm.com/rachel