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The Women's Sports Alliance


MEGAN RAPINOE: A Woman Who Believed In Herself And ‘Achieved Everything’

“I feel incredibly grateful to have played as long as I have, to be as successful as we’ve been, and to have been a part of a generation of players who undoubtedly left the game better than they found it,” states Megan Rapinoe ahead of her final professsional game.

USWNT captain, Megan Rapinoe waves goodbye as she retires

Image Credit: @uswnt

A legend, icon and trailblazer. These are all incredibly accurate, as well as apt, tributes to Megan Rapinoe’s astounding career, yet even those grand endorsements seem to fall short of fully expressing the transformative impact she the footballer had on her sport and wider society.

This is a woman who won two World Cup and an Olympic gold on the pitch, but arguably made even greater headlines off it when taking on US President Donald Trump and championing women’s rights, as well as LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

The 38-year-old American will officially bring her astounding playing career to a close after her side, OL Reign, take on NJ/NY Gotham in the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season finale on Saturday 11 Nov.

“To be able to go out on my own terms is incredibly special,” said Megan, who made a record 203 appearances for the USA national team.

“Thanks to all my teammates and coaches, U.S. Soccer, the Seattle Reign and especially Sue, for everything.”

Sue of course being her long-term partner and finance Sue Bird, a five-time Olympic champion and 13-time WNBA All-star, who was a similarly trailblazing force in women’s basketball.

The pair met at the Rio 2016 Games and the Women’s Sports Alliance thought Sue was well-placed to give a glowing assessment of Megan’s incredible career ahead of her retirement.

Megan Rapinoe and partner, Sue Bird spin soccer ball and basketball on their fingertips

Image Credit: @mrapino

Q - Megan has experienced an incredible career on the pitch and achieved so much off it as well during the last two decades. How proud are you of what she has accomplished?

"What do you say? She's literally done everything and won everything," Sue says with a laugh.

"She has always been one of the better players on the team, but she would always be (quite modest) like, ‘it was never like the MVP (most valuable player) or the top goal scorer.’

“But then you add on what she's doing off the field, which was happening simultaneously she’s been incredible.”

Q – How much have you learned from one another and the experiences you have had in your respective sports?

Megan Rapinoe and partner Sue Bird embrace as they celebrate Bird's Olympic success

Image Credit: @mrapino

“Well, it's nice to have somebody who's kind of experiencing the same things as you, that has an understanding (of life in elite sport).

“The fact that we eat the same, which actually is not how it started, I was definitely the nutrition person, she had to kind of get on board, but it makes it makes life a little bit easier to kind of share in that.

“It pertains to the business side of things too, because sometimes you kind of get caught in your own world, doing things the way you’ve always done them, which happens to us all, and sometimes you just need to see that different perspective.

“It can really open your eyes and make you approach things a little differently and we’ve definitely had that impact on one another and learned a lot from each other.”

Q – How does it feel to be dubbed a women’s sport ‘power-couple’ by some of the biggest media outlets and highest-profile athletes in the world?

Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird feature in photo shoot as sport's power-couple

Image Credit: @mrapino

"Yeah, I mean, honestly, the fact that since Megan and I started dating she's obviously been in her soccer world, and I've kind of been in my basketball world, I'm sure there's a lot of ‘powers-that-be’ who hate that we're making so much noise!

“It's probably good for women's sports because I think the two of us can kind of share our experiences and learn from one another and really push the envelope (for change).

“I've definitely learned from her experiences and that's translated into our USA Basketball tour or how I how I tried to help negotiate the CBA (collective bargaining agreement).

“For Megan, she learnt from what we've accomplished too, with one thing being the family planning and maternity leave.

“To be honest, it’s not just female athletes that have to think about these things, career women have to think about these things and it's about time that it becomes the norm, so you can plan your family without it taking away from your career.”

Q – What will Megan’s legacy be, in your opinion?

Megan Rapinoe retirement

Image Credit: @mrapino

“When Megan took on the President of United States, well, I mean in all honesty he took her on, there was a whole other level of pressure that I can't even begin to describe it.

“The fact that Megan could still perform under that type of pressure really said a lot about her and her confidence and showed that she truly believes in herself.

“She knew there was a moment in that World Cup (which USA won in 2019) where nothing was going to phase her, not even the President.

“She didn’t use it to motivate her, she just knew that the better they played in that World Cup and if they won, it could really catapult some things (rights and rewards within USA soccer for women), that we'd then all be the beneficiary of.

"So, that to me is I'm most proud of; as an athlete there's always pressure to perform, but she continued to perform even with everything else going on.

“She was just able to go out there and dominate and stay in that moment."

Megan Rapinoe retiement

Image Credit: @uswnt

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