Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird define the modern sports power couple. Rapinoe, a World Cup winner with the USWNT, and Sue, a record 5-time Olympic gold medalist, have used their platform to advocate for, among other things, racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights. They’ve also come up against a former United States President and won.
Rapinoe and Bird have also served us with a slate of #couplegoals moments. Following her fifth Olympic triumph, Sue ran to the stands and shared a sweet embrace with her future wife. In 2019, it was Rapinoe rushing to the stands to kiss Sue as she celebrated her second Women’s World Cup win.
Follow us as we look at Megan and Sue’s relationship through the years.
Megan was engaged when she met Sue at a Rio Olympics photo shoot
Despite playing and living in Seattle, Megan and Rio had never met before the Rio Olympics. The couple first crossed paths at a photo shoot for the national team. Rapinoe’s attempt at a smooth first line backfired.
“We kinda crossed and she was like, ‘Oh, hey! Ready for your game?’” Bird told NBC. “I walked away like, ‘why would you even say that?’” Megan said. “I made such a bad impression.” Megan’s bad impression did little to dampen the attraction between the pair.
Rapinoe later slid into Bird’s DM to applaud her for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. DMs soon became texts and hangouts at the Olympics. While the US basketball team shone, the football team floundered.
For the first time in the women’s football team history, the team failed to medal at an Olympics. Meanwhile, Bird scooped her fourth Olympic Gold. At the team’s victory party, Sue’s teammate, Diana Taurasi, noticed Bird’s attraction to Megan.
“Sue would just gravitate right back to [Megan’s] table,” Diana told GQ Magazine. Megan and Sue linked up for a meal in Seattle after the games. As the pair had drinks in Chicago the following September, they finally acknowledged their romantic spark.
Rapinoe was engaged when she met Bird, but she and her then-fiancée had a rocky relationship. In her memoir, One Life, Megan admitted to cheating on her fiancée emotionally but not physically. She ended the engagement before getting physical with Sue.
Megan told GQ Magazine that she knew from the first moment that Sue was the one; she just needed several dates to confirm. “It just was immediately like, ‘Oh, this is home,’” Rapinoe said.
Rapinoe leaned on Sue as Megan risked her career for the BLM movement
Megan and Sue instantly made each other stronger and better. Sue hadn’t come out to the world before meeting Megan, but she finally did so as she announced her relationship with Megan in 2017.
“I’m gay,” Sue told ESPN. “Megan’s my girlfriend… These aren’t secrets to the people who know me.” Rapinoe had come out publicly in 2012 and affirmed that it was someone’s personal decision on when to do so. “It’s happening when it’s happening because that’s what feels right,” she said.
Rapinoe’s public support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality shocked the nation. She was the first white professional athlete to kneel during the national anthem. Football governing bodies turned a blind eye at her first protest but bombarded her with threats following her second kneel.
Megan’s career looked under serious threat as she lost her place in the USWNT. “I think everyone was like, ‘Okay, if you fade out, that sort of fine,’” Megan told GQ Magazine. When everyone seemed to be against her, Rapinoe leaned on her new love. Rapinoe explained:
“I’m going through this crazy situation with my coach, my career’s on the line, I’m feeling wild things and saying wild things at times. I’ve never felt insecure in my career in that way. [The relationship] felt safe in this very unsafe world that I was living in.”
Megan fought back brilliantly and rejoined the national side better than she had left. “I had to be way better than I was before, because [U.S. Soccer officials] were just kind of happy to let this bitch go,” she said.
In June 2018, Megan and Sue became the first openly gay couple to cover ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue. “The fact that we’ll be the first gay couple, is pretty special… Not only are we female athletes, but we’re dating as well,” Rapinoe told the publication.
“It’s kind of badass.” Megan’s next badass moment came a year later when she told a reporter that she wouldn’t visit the White House if the USWNT won the World Cup. “Megan should WIN first before she TALKS,” President Donald Trump responded via Twitter.
Sue swung back via an op-ed on The Player’s Tribune titled So the President Fucking Hates My Girlfriend. That was pretty badass. “You just cannot shake that girl,” Sue praised Megan. “She is going to apologize to exactly NO ONE for it.”
Rapinoe proposed to Sue during Sue’s 40th birthday celebration in Antigua
Rapinoe had no intention to propose when she headed to Antigua with Sue and seven of the couple’s friends to celebrate Sue’s 40th birthday party. Then one day, as she sat on the edge of an infinity pool with Sue in the water next to her, she proposed.
“I could just sense it,” Bird said. “I knew what was happening.” Before they took their viral proposal photo, Sue asked Megan to take off a white bucket hat she had on.
In October 2020, Megan used one of the rings she had on her fingers to ask Sue to marry her. The pandemic had allowed Sue and Megan to spend time together doing what normal couples do and training for the Olympics.
When Sue traveled to Florida to play in the WNBA season, Megan traveled with her. “It was either that or not be around you for three months,” Rapinoe told GQ Magazine. “And that was not happening.” Megan enjoyed her time in Florida, drinking, recording her audiobook, and watching Sue’s games.
Sue also helped her stay fit. “Even though we play different sports, I think especially as a little bit older athletes, you know, we have some of the same ailments – the lower back hip thing,” Rapinoe told InStyle. “It’s just nice to have a workout buddy, to break things up.”
Megan and Sue’s training paid off as they both enjoyed stellar Olympic campaigns. Sue won gold, and Megan won bronze in their respective disciplines.
Rapinoe and Sue could become the first married U.S. Olympic champions in different sports
It’s a bit surprising that not two U.S. Olympic champions in different disciplines have married. That honor could go to Rapinoe and Sue when they tie the knot.
The pair told GQ Magazine that they will have their wedding when it is safe and at a warm location. By doing so, they’ll have made history, just as they have done severally in the five years they’ve been together. The pair hope that they can continue to inspire others to live without fear. Megan said:
“I hope people see it doesn’t have to be this slog where you’re just a selfless servant. You can have fun, you can be successful. You can do it your own way.”
Kids could come in the future, but at the moment, Rapinoe and Bird want to enjoy the freedom of a childless life a little bit longer. “Right now we couldn’t even have a goldfish,” Bird told GQ Magazine before adding:
“We would love to have the type of life where we can just, on whim, go on a vacation or do some of the things that sports inhibited us from doing. Who knows? Maybe it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s your mom’s birthday. Let’s go see your mom on her birthday.”