Megan Rapinoe is ending her phenomenal year on a high note.
On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced Rapinoe and as the 2019 Sportsperson of the Year.
The two-time World Cup champion, 34, will be featured on the magazine’s Dec. 16 cover issue, which will also feature the recipients of this year’s awards, including Warrick Dunn (The Muhammad Ali Legacy Award), Luka Dončić (Breakout of the Year), and Ally Sentnor (SportsKid of the Year).
In her SI interview, Rapinoe, who is openly gay, spoke about the importance of standing up for what she feels is right — which includes her hard stance against President Donald Trump and his policies.
“The feeling of not standing up when I know something is wrong is so much worse than whatever happens if I stand up,” she said.
“I feel in a way this year, and particularly the World Cup, gave people not only a motivation and inspiration but almost like a path forward to doing something, doing anything, in a time that feels a little bit paralyzing,” she continued.
Rapinoe added: “I feel like I am being recognized on behalf of the team for reasons of trying to do better in the world. Everything we do on the field and off the field, I think this is all going into it. That really means a lot to me. Yes, it is a sports award and you have to go out and perform. But really me winning it, I feel is a win for the good guys.”
In June, Rapinoe made headlines when her past comments regarding not wanting to visit “the f—ing White House” if the U.S. women’s national soccer team was victorious in the World Cup surfaced online.
The soccer star has been an outspoken social and political advocate — becoming one of the first athletes to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, leading the lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay, and fighting for LGBTQ rights.
And though her views on Trump and his administration have been criticized by some, Rapinoe has remained strong and implored “detractors” to “look hard into what I’m actually saying and the actions that I’m doing.”
“I think that I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American,” Rapinoe told ESPN in an interview on July 3. “If we want to talk about the ideals that we stand for, all the songs and the anthem and sort of what we were founded on, I think I’m extremely American.”
She stressed that the United States is a great country and she considers herself lucky to be an American. But it “doesn’t mean we can’t get better” or “shouldn’t always strive to be better.”
“I think that this country was founded on a lot of great ideals, but it was also founded on slavery,” she noted. “And I think we just need to be really honest about that and be really open in talking about that, so we can reconcile that and hopefully move forward and make this country better for everyone.”
Rapinoe and her fellow SI 2019 honorees will attend the award ceremony taking place Monday at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. Presenters include Shaquille O’Neal, Ann Curry, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks and Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp.
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