Ahead of the USWNT’s World Cup sendoff game, Megan Rapinoe on Saturday made an unexpected appearance on the press conference stage.
“It’s with a really deep sense of peace and gratitude and excitement that I want to share with you guys that it’s gonna be my last season,” Rapinoe said.
Rapinoe, who is competing in her fourth World Cup this summer, said she plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 NWSL season.
Rapinoe will finish her career as one of the greatest soccer players — and most influential athlete activists — of all time. The 38-year-old is a two-time World Cup champion (2015, 2019), Olympic gold medalist (2012), and winner of the 2019 Ballon d’Or Feminin. She also helped her OL Reign club team win three NWSL regular season Shield titles (2014, 2015, 2022).
Along the way, she championed LGBTQ+ rights, the USWNT’s equal pay fight, abortion access and racial justice initiatives, and she forced U.S. soccer to reconsider its own policies related to athlete protest and free speech.
In 2022, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor in the United States — from President Joe Biden.
Rapinoe said her decision to announce her retirement in advance of the Women’s World Cup was influenced by watching her fiancée, WNBA legend Sue Bird, go through the process last year.
“It is incredibly rare for athletes of any stature to be able to do out on their own, in their own way, on their own terms,” Rapinoe noted.
“I’m really lucky to be in this position that I get to have agency over the end of this really beautiful part of my life.”