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U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe makes history in a swimsuit

Elliott Almond, The Mercury News on

Published in Soccer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Soccer star Megan Rapinoe didn't need to mull over the proposal when her agent asked if she wanted to model for the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue this year.

"Immediately, yes," she said she told the agent. "It makes total sense because it doesn't make sense at all. I love the idea of reinventing norms and conventions."

Rapinoe, 33, became the first openly gay woman to participate in the annual issue, according to the magazine in a story Wednesday. Sports Illustrated has been criticized for years for perpetuating stereotypes by often ignoring women athletes while highlighting scantily clad models in seductive poses.

The latest edition includes a woman in a hijab and older models, Rapinoe told this news organization in an interview Thursday.

The striker was joined in the issue by U.S. national team members Alex Morgan, Abby Dahlkemper and Crystal Dunn.

Rapinoe is the co-captain of the team that plays South Africa at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Levi's Stadium in a tuneup before the World Cup begins next month in France. The top-ranked Americans will try to defend their title and become the first country to win four Women's World Cups.

 

While Rapinoe is considered one of the world's best players, she also has built a reputation for speaking out on social issues include pay equity, LGBTQ rights and supporting Colin Kaepernick by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before a national team game in 2016.

Participating in the swimsuit issue gave the striker another platform to make a statement, she said.

"Not just throwing everything out of the window -- I don't really like that idea," Rapinoe said. "But re-imagining what everything can look like. What does feminine look like? What does sexy look like? What does a female athlete look like? What does a gay athlete look like?"

Rapinoe recently was named to her third World Cup team. The Seattle Reign FC standout has helped the United States win the 2012 Olympic gold medal and 2015 World Cup title.

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