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'Trump criticism was surreal' -- Sue Bird remembers when Donald Trump targeted girlfriend Megan Rapinoe

WNBA star Sue Bird talks to Don Riddell about her position in women's sport, her partner Megan Rapinoe and the fallout from Rapinoe speaking out about Donald Trump.

Posted: Feb 11, 2020 11:20 AM
Updated: Feb 11, 2020 11:20 AM

It's not every day you wake up to the president of the United States criticizing your girlfriend.

In fact, in that respect, basketball star Sue Bird may be in a league of her own.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist still remembers that rather "surreal" morning when President Donald Trump went on a Twitter rant about her partner Megan Rapinoe.

The pair had been in an ongoing feud since the soccer star spoke out about not wanting to visit the White House if the USWNT win the 2019 Women's World Cup, a claim which seemed to politicize the otherwise seamless tournament in France last year.

However, Bird says the public spat barely affected Rapinoe, evidenced by the fact that she went on to lift the World Cup just days later. She did, though, admit the whole situation took some getting used to.

"I think we both woke up, looked at it and was like, 'Is this really happening?'" Bird told CNN Sport's Don Riddell.

"After that, oddly enough, it presented this opportunity for Megan.

"I think not a lot of people talk about her ability to kind of take the heat from the president and be able to clap back, if you will, and then still perform.

"As an athlete, that's incredibly difficult. She took that on, she took that pressure and still was able to perform."

The pair had been concerned for their safety, aware that many will have sided with Trump, but that didn't stop Bird penning a letter in the Player's Tribune which was perfectly titled "So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend."

READ: Megan Rapinoe's epic 2019

Power couple

Couples simply don't come more powerful than Bird and Rapinoe.

Both have reached the very top of their respective sports and both have used their lofty platforms to call for equality in sport and in wider society.

Bird, in particular, has been a trailblazer in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and has been influential in its rise in popularity and investment.

She has also been a colossus on the court, winning three WNBA titles (2004, 2010, 2018) with Seattle Storm in addition to her bumper Olympic haul.

"You want to leave a mark, you want to leave a legacy and I've kind of held onto that," the 39-year-old said, reflecting back on her career to date.

"Especially in the last couple of years, I've really tried to do my part to make sure I leave the game in a better place."

READ: WNBA star Diana Taurasi credits Kobe Bryant for helping grow women's basketball

READ: USWNT and US soccer fight for moral high ground on equal pay battle

'I've learned so much'

Living alongside Rapinoe, herself a pioneer in women's soccer, has certainly had an influence on Bird.

The pair are both unapologetic in their ambition and want to use their own success to pull others up behind them.

It's a relationship that seems to have got the best out of both and Bird is excited for what the future holds.

"I've learned so much from Megan. Just watching her, how she carries herself, how she believes in certain things and sticks to it, never wavers, and there is a confidence that is required for that," she says.

"Who better to share ideas with, compare ideas with, poke holes in each other's ideas?

"I mean, it's really nice to just sit down and have someone to talk to that is going through the exact same things. More than anything I'm just incredibly proud of her."

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