Megan Rapinoe and Simone Biles will receive the highest civilian honor when President Joe Biden bestows them and other notable figures with the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on July 7.
The award is given out by the President to those who have “made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.”
Biles is the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, having accrued seven Olympic medals and 25 world championship medals. The 25-year-old is also a “prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault,” the White House said in a press release.
The highest civilian honor in the United States. 🎖@mPinoe will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on July 7 🇺🇸— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) July 1, 2022
The highest civilian honor in the United States. 🎖@mPinoe will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on July 7 🇺🇸
Rapinoe, a two-time World Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist, is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equality and racial justice.
“In that moment I spoke to the President, I was, and still am, totally overwhelmed,” Rapinoe said about being notified of the honor on June 23. “I just think of all the people who I feel deserve a part of this medal, from my family to current and former teammates, all the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team throughout our history, to Colin Kaepernick, the three woman who founded Black Lives Matter – Opal, Alicia and Patrisse – to Marsha P, Sylvia and Billie Jean, the Williams sisters, of course my fiancé Sue Bird, and so many more.
“I am humbled and truly honored to be chosen for this award by President Biden and feel as inspired and motivated as ever to continue this long history of fighting for the freedoms of all people. To quote Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’”
Rapinoe is the first soccer player to receive the prestigious award, and Biles and Rapinoe are two of six total women’s athletes to be honored.
The duo join 15 others who will be recognized at the White House ceremony next Thursday, including actor Denzel Washington, former U.S. Senator John McCain, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Rapinoe will miss the USWNT’s second World Cup qualifier against Jamaica in Monterrey, Mexico for the ceremony.
“Megan is of course very disappointed about missing a game, but I told her to go,” said USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski. “She has to go. This is a once-in-a-lifetime honor, she deserves it.”