World-class athletes Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are engaged.
Soccer champion Rapinoe and basketball star Bird announced the news with an Instagram post Friday, with a photo showing Bird in an infinity pool and Rapinoe kneeling on the edge, holding Bird’s hand and possibly putting a ring on Bird’s finger.
The proposal apparently happened when the women were on vacation celebrating Bird’s 40th birthday in mid-October, People reports.
Rapinoe, 35, is captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team in soccer, which won the Women’s World Cup last year. She also plays for Seattle’s OL Reign soccer team but has opted out of the upcoming season. Bird plays for the Seattle Storm, which won the WNBA championship this year. She’s an Olympic gold medalist as well.
The engagement wasn’t entirely unexpected. Shortly before the announcement, Rapinoe had told People, in an interview for an upcoming issue, that the two had discussed marriage.
“We’ve talked about it, definitely. I think in the future, for sure,” she told the magazine. “We’re not like, ‘Oh let’s just’ — but I always tell her that if she were ever to break up with me or want to, that’s totally fine, that’s your choice. Just know that I will crumble to dust,” Rapinoe added.
The two have been together for four years. Their relationship became public when Bird came out as gay in 2017. “I’m gay. Megan’s my girlfriend. ... These aren’t secrets to people who know me,” Bird said in an ESPN interview. “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.” She came out not because of the relationship but because it was the right time for her to do so, she said. In 2018 they became the first same-sex couple to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue, posing nude.
Rapinoe has been outspoken about politics — she declined to visit the White House because of her opposition to Donald Trump — and about gender inequality in sports. The U.S. Women’s National Team has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, demanding that women be paid as much as men in the sport. She has also knelt during the National Anthem as a protest against racism. Bird, while less outspoken, has been strongly supportive of Rapinoe, defending her in the wake of Trump’s tweetstorms.
While some conservatives have criticized Rapinoe’s stances, no one has questioned her athleticism. In 2019 she was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year and FIFA’s Female Player of the Year (FIFA is soccer’s governing body). In 2020 Time named her to its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
In her People interview, Rapinoe said the togetherness she’s had with Bird during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “silver lining” to the situation. “We’ve essentially spent every single day together since the beginning of March,” she said, noting that Bird’s “mental and emotional strength” has buoyed her spirits. “It’s been the greatest gift and a big silver lining in this whole thing,” Rapinoe said.
The women’s teams were quick to congratulate them via social media. There’s no word, however, on a wedding date.