Is anything more charming than watching two Olympians embrace after snagging medals? “No!” shout
Megan Rapinoe- and Sue Bird-adoring fans everywhere. “No there is not!” If you’re just getting into this iconic (and athletic) duo’s romance, I’ll spare you the condescending, “I liked them before they were cool” spiel and just welcome you to the party. And if you aren’t already fans of this queer athlete power couple, a brief look at Megan Rapino and Sue Bird’s relationship timeline will leave you on the floor in a pile of your own happy tears — I promise.
Brief refresher: 36-year-old Megan Rapinoe is a co-captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), a captain of the Seattle Reign, and an Olympic medalist. Her fiancée, 40-year-old Sue Bird, is a WNBA champion from the Seattle Storm and also an Olympic medalist. (And yes, both women snagged a few more medals in Tokyo. Because of course they did.) If that's not impressive enough for you, they're also incredibly politically active. The two have openly advocated for equal pay and LGBTQIA+ rights, and have spoken out against police brutality.
In a classic girl-meets-girl, girl-falls-in-love-with-girl, girls-continue-to-win-both-national-and-international-sport-championships (plural) fashion, Rapinoe and Bird have a found a love that's both a goal and a slam dunk in one.
July 2, 2012: Rapinoe Publicly Comes Out
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2015: Rapinoe Shoots Her Shot With Bird
Megan Rapinoe has never been afraid to go for gold (literally — she’s participated in
the Olympics three times), and if you've seen her nail a penalty kick, you know how well she does under pressure. In the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for being the top scorer. So, it's no wonder that when she first met Sue Bird at a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) press event for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rapinoe made the first move.
In a 2018 interview with
Seattle Refined, the pair both admitted that Rapinoe's opening line didn't initially land.
"I was in uniform but my hair was down and in full makeup and she joked, 'Are you getting ready for a game?' I was like 'Yeaaahhh,’'' Bird told
AlthoughRapinoe walked away feeling defeated, she later told
Oprah magazine that she and Bird's agents worked together, and she went to some of Bird's games during the Rio Olympics. Naturally.
July 22, 2016: Rapinoe Slides (Read: Marches) Into Bird's DMs
TBH, the only relatable part of this athletic fairytale is that Rapinoe slid into Bird's DMs. The reason she got in touch? Their shared fight for social justice.Apart from their sheer athletic genius, the pair have both been incredibly public about their activism. In 2016, a number of
WNBA teams and players wore black shirts and jerseys at their games in support of Black Lives Matter. Bird and her team, the Seattle Storm, were incredibly vocal on social media about their support of the movement. Rapinoe — who was one of the first white athletes to kneel during the national anthem — contacted Bird on social, commending the WNBA's protests.
During a 2017 interview during the
ESPNW Women and Sports Summit, Bird affectionately joked about Rapinoe sliding into her DMs, going on to say that the messaging eventually led to texting, which eventually led to the pair hanging in Seattle (the city where they both live and play professional sports, like the icons they are).
July 20, 2017: Bird Publicly Comes Out & The Two DTR
In a 2017 interview with ESPN, Bird
came out publicly and confirmed that she and Rapinoe had been dating since fall of 2016.
"I'm gay — Megan's my girlfriend," Bird told
ESPN. "These aren't secrets to people who know me. 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."
Rapinoe and Bird's relationship is iconic and inspirational for a variety of reasons, but one of my personal faves is that the couple dated for nearly a year before Bird publicly came out.
Coming out looks different for everyone, and all relationships are totally real and valid, regardless of how public they are.
Later in the interview, Bird explained that she came out when she was ready to. "I understand there are people who think I should have done it sooner, it wasn't right for me at the time," Bird said. "I have to be true to that. It's my journey."
June 25, 2018: Rapinoe & Bird Bare It All
Shortly after confirming their love to the world, Bird and Rapinoe really bared it all —literally. As the
first openly gay couple to be on the cover of ESPN's "Body Issue," Bird and Rapinoe rocked an iconic nude photoshoot.
"Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well," Rapinoe told ESPN. "It's kind of badass."
Along with the incredible photos, Bird and Rapinoe spoke about the importance of the visibility and normalization of queer relationships.
"I think having a gay couple on [the cover], hopefully it just becomes the norm, Bird told ESPN. "You want it to not be an issue. You want it to just be, oh, another couple is on there."
July 2, 2019: Bird Writes The Greatest Love Letter Of All Time
In the days before the 2019 World Cup,
Rapinoe told a reporter from Eight by Eight magazine that if USA won, she would not be celebrating in D.C. (the literal quote is: "Psssh, I'm not going to the f*cking White House.") This statement inspired a series of tweets by then-President Donald Trump instructing Rapinoe to "win before she talks." Trump's tweets then inspired Bird to write what is, IMHO, the greatest love letter of all time. " So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend" is an op-ed for The Players Tribune , defending Rapinoe, commending the USWNT, and listing everything she loves about her girlfriend.
"But on Friday? It was like for this one, perfect, fleeting, uncomplicated day…I was
everyone," Bird wrote. "I was happy. I was crazy. I was proud. I was pretending to know about soccer. I was a little overwhelmed. I was pretty damn American. And I was in love with Megan Rapinoe."
I'm not crying, you're crying. (I am crying.)
Oct. 30, 2020: Rapinoe & Bird Announced Their Engagement
Rapinoe decided to put a ring on it. Bird shared their
engagement on Instagram with a dreamy, caption-less post of Rapinoe down on one knee — a photo that speaks for itself. Thank goodness they gave us all an excuse to celebrate (for once!) in the midst of a tough year.
Feb. 9, 2021: Rapinoe & Bird Appear (Adorably!) In
Not long after sharing their proposal with the world,
Rapinoe and Bird asked each other 43 questions in GQ’s “Couple’s Quiz,” during which they preciously (and nervously, in Bird’s words) answered questions about one another.
They also graced the magazine’s cover the following month, headlining
GQ’s “Modern Lovers” edition and revealing that Rapinoe was wearing (wait for it!) a bucket hat when the couple got engaged in Antigua in an interview.
Aug. 5-7 2021: Rapinoe And Bird Win Medals At Tokyo Olympics
Fast-forward a few months, and in the same week, both women won medals at the Tokyo Olympics — Rapinoe scored a bronze on the soccer field, while Bird brought home the
U.S. Women’s Basketball Team’s seventh straight gold.
Just before they snagged those medals, though,
Rapinoe shared the most earnest post celebrating the fact that Bird was selected as the USA’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony.
“Beyond words. I am so proud of you Sue,” Rapinoe wrote on Instagram. “What an honor it is to have you lead us @teamusa and all of America back home. 🇺🇸 You are, simply the best. ❤️ @sbird10.”
In conclusion: Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird are Olympic gold medalists. They also happen to be women, who happen to be gay, who happened to have found each other, thus creating possibly the greatest sporty love story of all time. All I can say is, when it comes to the game of love, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird can't stop winning.