Marta Vieira da Silva, also known simply as Marta, is probably the Women's World Cup's biggest star. Let's learn a little more about the athlete sometimes called "Pele in a skirt."
According to an interview with Der Spiegel, 25-year-old Marta was born in the Brazilian town of Dois Riachos, where, she says, "I was the only girl there who played soccer." She started playing when she was seven, "With the boys, on the street, without shoes." Since then, she's played for a Swedish team and her current professional employers, a team called the Western New York Flash that's owned by a man who also runs a Buffalo meat-packing company. But right now, she's most visible as the breakout star of Brazil's national team — and the Women's World Cup in general.
Deadspin's Emma Carmichael calls Marta "one of the few reasons that a casual soccer fan might watch early-round games in the Women's World Cup that do not involve the U.S. national team." She also notes that "Marta has a schoolyard, bullish quality to her game that's rare for the women's side: perhaps in part to make up for her size (she might pass for 5'5" in spikes), she's never shy of throwing an elbow to earn herself some extra space for a play." Der Spiegel's Wiebke Hollersen also praises Marta's energy: