Rapinoe, who helped the U.S. women’s national team win a second consecutive World Cup in July, gushed over Bird, a player with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, while attending the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 40th Annual Salute to Women in Sports gala on Wednesday.
“We are huge fans of each other,” Rapinoe told People, before adding that she has become the Seattle Storm’s “number one superfan.”
“I think it is just the understanding of what we have to go through and the appreciation of, you know, each other’s skills and lives is really special,” she continued.
Rapinoe also said, “It is nice to just be able to totally unwind and be completely yourself and, you know, have someone understand and appreciate how special it is, what you are doing, but also just love you for who you are and just to be that kind of support system. Honestly, it’s really nice.”
In recent years, Rapinoe, an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and equal pay, has made headlines for moments both on and off the field.
She kneeled during the playing of the national anthem ahead of a 2016 soccer game in solidarity with then-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled before football games to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
In June, Rapinoe, who has referred to herself as a “walking protest” of the Trump administration, told Eight by Eight magazine: “I’m not going to the fucking White House.” That remark ― made before the American team had won the World Cup ― garnered praise on social media, but swift condemnation from President Donald Trump, who questioned her patriotism and mockingly tweeted that the star forward and national team co-captain should “WIN first before she TALKS!”
The WNBA star noted that Rapinoe remained impressively calm despite the Twitter attacks from Trump supporters, who sent “hostile” messages after the president’s tirade.
“Megan, man….. I’ll tell you what. You just cannot shake that girl,” Bird wrote. “She’s going to do her thing, at her own damn speed, to her own damn rhythm, and she’s going to apologize to exactly NO ONE for it.”
Bird and Rapinoe made their relationship public in 2017. Last year, they became the first openly gay couple to appear in ESPN’s “body issue.”