Lesbian soccer legend Megan Rapinoe said in a press conference Saturday that she plans to retire at the end of 2023, which means the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts later this month, will be her last one.
Rapinoe has been a fixture on the U.S. women’s soccer team since she joined it in 2006. The 38-year-old made the comments during an appearance ahead of a U.S. game against Wales in California, The New York Times reports.
“I could have just never imagined where this beautiful game would have taken me,” Rapinoe said. “I feel so honored to have represented this country, this federation for so many years.”
She added, “It’s truly been the greatest thing I’ve ever done.”
The Times notes that Rapinoe has had several injuries while playing for the national team.
The player has been a vocal activist for LGBTQ+ rights and pay equity.
Soccer star and teammate Alex Morgan said, according to the Times, that Rapinoe texted the team’s group chat letting them know about her decision.
“Well, now we have to win the whole damn thing,” Morgan said.
Earlier this year, the athlete was named one of Time’s 12 Women of the Year this year. She dedicated her win to transgender people.
“I am only here because of them,” Rapinoe said at the Women of the Year gala, held at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills in March, Timereports. “We all know what’s going on in our country with the attempted erasure of trans people.”
“The way they refuse to live their life any other way than completely whole is so inspiring. I’m inspired by the invitation to be completely myself,” Rapinoe said. “They offer us a full view of what it means to be a human in the world. A whole opportunity to be the crazy-ass human beings that we are. That’s a great gift.”