Separately, World Cup champion soccer player Megan Rapinoe and Olympic gold medalist basketball phenom Sue Bird are sporting powerhouses who have elevated their respective games with each win. But when they came together as a couple in 2016, a tectonic shift happened in the realm of women’s sports—like the plot of Will Smith’s Hancock—two gods had found each other, and the world would be changed for it. The now engaged couple appeared on the cover of the Modern Lovers issue of GQ in a protective embrace. In a profile written by former Jezebel Editor-in-Chief Emma Carmichael, the two superstars talked about their engagement and how Bird’s strict fitness regimen changed the course of Rapinoe’s career. Overall, their message wasn’t just about love for one another, but the love for the work they do and the respect (and money) their success deserves.
“I’m fucking sick of convincing people that I’m great at my job,” Rapinoe says. “Fucking clearly I’m great at my job! We did everything on the field. We pretty much did everything off the field. We’re good role models, you know? We are profitable. For them to consistently dig their heels in on an issue [where] it’s very clear where the world is going is a colossal waste of time.”
In their respective sports, Rapinoe and Bird have both added activism, geared towards equitable pay and racial justice, to their workload. Most recently, Bird was among the senior players in the WNBA who successfully worked to get Raphael Warnock elected to fill Kelly Loeffler’s seat, along with members of Loeffler’s team, the Atlanta Dream. Rapinoe and her fellow National Team members are still toiling away against the US Soccer Federation for better pay and conditions for players and have won some small victories.
But the fight isn’t just so Rapinoe and Bird can accumulate their own wealth and ride off into the sunset, never to pick up a ball again. “I hope all the kids that come behind me are way richer than I am,” Rapinoe says about her push for better pay and more visibility in women’s sports. Similarly, Bird wants to usher in a world where accomplished women athletes like herself “don’t have to fucking go out there and explain it all the time,” with “it” being their success. What a world that might turn out to be.
Read the full cover story at GQ.