In 1956 France Football magazine introduced the world to the Ballon d'Or, a prestigious golden ball given every year to the best soccer players on earth. Or more accurately, it's an award given to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on a seemingly endless rotation. Until 2018, only men were considered candidates for the Ballon. Last year, a category for Women's Player of the Year was introduced, and the first award was given to Ada Hegerberg of Norway, a real beast on the field.
But this year, in the glorious soccer age that is 2019, the award went to the pink-haired goddess, Megan Rapinoe. She beat out England's Lucy Bronze and her USWNT teammate Alex Morgan for the top honor. Rapinoe has had possibly the most winning year of her entire career. During the World Cup, Rapinoe scored six goals and was awarded the Golden Boot as well as the Golden Ball. She then went on to win FIFA's Woman Player of the Year. Rapinoe was also honored by Glamour as one of their Women of the Year, not just for her athletic prowess but for her advocacy and activism off the field. In her acceptance speech, Rapinoe credited other activists like Colin Kaepernick and Tarana Burke for making it possible for her to speak out and be an ally. Rapinoe has achieved all of this while leading the fight for equal pay for all female soccer players by suing the US Soccer Federation.
It's hard to choose a highlight in a year that reads like a highlight reel for Megan Rapinoe. But the top contender certainly has to be when an interviewer asked if she would visit the White House if the USWNT won the World Cup and Rapinoe eloquently replied, "I'm not going to the fucking White House."