Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and WNBA sharpshooter Sue Bird have been dating since 2016. Bird and Rapinoe have emerged as one of the most recognizable couples in sports. Their relationship takes center stage as they co-host the ESPYs with Russell Wilson.
The award show has a different feel than most years as the trio and award winners will all be participating virtually with COVID-19 still spreading rapidly across the United States. The couple admits that the public scrutiny has increased since Rapinoe helped lead the USWNT to a 2019 World Cup title.
“Things have changed for the better in a lot of ways, but figuring out how to navigate it all is hard,” Bird told InStyle. “Especially with the increase in recognition. We’re not used to it, and we’re still just normal, you know? We’re not like an NBA player who has millions of dollars to hire security and a driver. We’re just trying to figure those things out on the fly.”
Learn more about the power couple.
1. The Couple Met at a Sponsor Event at the 2016 Rio Olympics
According to The Seattle Times, Rapinoe and Bird initially met at a sponsor event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The two athletes discovered they both lived in Seattle, so it made even more sense that they became friends. It did not take long for things to turn romantic as the couple began dating in September 2016 shortly after the Olympics.
“It was kinda like, ‘OK, we both live in Seattle, we should be friends. Why aren’t we friends?’ ” Rapinoe explained to The Seattle Times.
2. During the World Cup, Bird Took on Trump & Defended Rapinoe
President Donald Trump took on Rapinoe during the 2019 World Cup after she admitted she had no plans to go to the White House. Trump posted a series of tweets saying Rapinoe “should WIN first before she TALKS.”
“Women’s soccer player, @mPinoe, just stated that she is ‘not going to the F…ing White House if we win,'” Trump tweeted. “Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
Bird defended Rapinoe in a lengthy article for The Players’ Tribune entitled “So the President F—— Hates My Girlfriend.” She complimented her girlfriend noting that you “cannot shake that girl.”
“I mean, some of it is kind of funny….. but like in a REALLY? REALLY? THIS GUY??? kind of way,” Bird explained. “Like, dude — there’s nothing better demanding your attention?? It would be ridiculous to the point of laughter, if it wasn’t so gross. (And if his legislations and policies weren’t ruining the lives of so many innocent people.) And then what’s legitimately scary, I guess, is like….. how it’s not just his tweets. Because now suddenly you’ve got all these MAGA peeps getting hostile in your mentions.”
3. Bird Came Out as Gay in 2017, While Rapinoe Revealed Her Sexuality in 2012
Both Bird and Rapinoe have been advocates for the LGBTQ community. Rapinoe revealed she was gay in a 2012 interview with Out Magazine. The soccer star explained that she was not trying to hide the fact that she was gay, but she was never asked about it by a reporter up until that point.
“I think they were trying to be respectful and that it’s my job to say, ‘I’m gay.’ Which I am. For the record: I am gay,” Rapinoe noted.
During a 2017 ESPN W interview, Bird revealed she was gay and dating Rapinoe which had not previously been made public. Bird noted that she had not been secretive about this fact but did not discuss it publicly until 2017.
“I’m gay. Megan’s my girlfriend. … These aren’t secrets to people who know me,” Bird noted. “I don’t feel like I’ve not lived my life. I think people have this assumption that if you’re not talking about it, you must be hiding it, like it’s this secret. That was never the case for me.”
Bird understood that her decision would be scrutinized and knew that some people would wonder why she did not discuss being gay sooner.
“It’s happening when it’s happening because that’s what feels right,” Bird continued. “So even though I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn’t right for me at the time. I have to be true to that. It’s my journey.”
4. Rapinoe & Bird Are Trying to Use Their Platform to Promote Anti-Racism
The couple have a history of speaking out against social injustice. As protests continue across the country, Bird and Rapinoe are doing their part to promote anti-racism.
“So I feel a deep responsibility just as a human being, but also as someone who has benefited greatly off social activism in many different ways, to always give that credit back,” Rapinoe explained to ESPN. “And to then do everything I can to balance out the system, because right now it’s totally out of whack. Everything we do now has to be with anti-racism in mind and rooting out racism everywhere so that we can get to a society that is equal for all and then everyone can flourish and then it’s like — fair game.”
Bird and Rapinoe just participated in the #ShareTheMicNow where white women who are celebrities use their social media platforms to listen to African-American women share their story. Bird noted that one of the keys to change is taking a step back and listening to the pain of others.
“For me, it’s kind of come in the form of just listening, right?” Bird noted to ESPN. “Talking to the people in my life that have had to deal with this, fight this, everything under the sun, and just listening to their stories. Something that I’ve really picked up on is every black person has been affected — and there’s no getting around that. Watching George Floyd get murdered, watching Ahmaud Arbery get murdered, has brought up a lot of trauma for many people who have found a way to suppress it, push it away, because they had to in order to survive from a mental health standpoint.”
5. Rapinoe on Bird: ‘I Love Being a WAG’
Rapinoe plays in the NWSL for the OL Reign which is based in Tacoma, Washington just south of Seattle. Bird is one of the top players in the WNBA and stars for the Seattle Storm. There is no athletic rivalry as the two stars support each other’s accomplishments. Rapinoe admits she has become a “superfan” of Bird and the Storm.
“I love being a WAG and a superfan,” Rapinoe explained to People Magazine. “I think it’s AMAZING and to be able to, you know, watch your partner exceed and excel and be exactly who they are in a public forum. That’s pretty special. I am all into the games. I just think she is amazing, of course … Neither of us are jealous or weird about each other’s careers. We are just kind of there to support each other.”