In July, the U.S. Women's National Soccer team co-captain took home her second World Cup title, and was honored with two of the tournament's top honors: Golden Ball for best player and Golden Boot for top scorer. Rapinoe, 34, emerged from the World Cup as one of the most celebrated athletes in the world, but she also picked up her fair share of haters along the way.
Piers Morgan called her an "arrogant piece of work," while the New York Post 's Kyle Smith wrote that Rapinoe was, "arrogant, abrasive, sanctimonious, whiny, humorless, unpatriotic, self-important and immensely boring." After Rapinoe said she'd reject a post-World Cup White House invitation (full quote: "Im not going to the fucking White House"), she also drew the ire of President Trump, who tweeted: "Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag."
Rapinoe told Marie Claire that the criticism she's received in 2019 is unfair.
"In the same breath that someone would call me arrogant, they wouldnt call Tom Brady or LeBron James or Michael Jordan arrogant," Rapinoe said. "Even when they do call male athletes arrogant, it's almost in a positive way. But when it comes from a woman, theyre like, 'How dare she? How dare she know shes one of the best players in the world? How dare she take a moment to let 55,000 fans absolutely adore her?' You know? We dont allow women the space to be that way."
Rapinoe had some words of encouragement for women who feel boxed in by regressive gender norms: "You deserve the space that you can take up. And you can take up as much space as you need."
With her comments, Rapinoe joined other elite athletes including Serena Williams , Lindsey Vonn, and Ibithaj Muhammad who have recently used their platforms to discuss how male athletes are treated differently than female athletes.
The October issue of Marie Claire is on newsstands now.