The Women's World Cup is kicking off in Canada June 6 and for U.S. star Abby Wambach, this might be her last chance to win the one major title that has eluded her. She is rounding into shape but acknowledged in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times that her 2013 marriage to Sarah Huffman refocused her passion.
"As you get older, I wouldn't say the passion leaves you, but it changes," Wambach said. "I'll be honest. After I got married, I definitely had a shift in emotional devotion. Forever, it was just soccer — passion, life, love. Then I got married, and I had to transfer some of my energy. I want to be my best for my country, but I also made a really big promise and choice to be the best in my marriage. That has not always been the easiest thing to manage."
But as her fourth World Cup nears, Wambach said, "I'm finally feeling like I'm having fun again."
She will turn 35 next week and is one of two open lesbians on the U.S. team along with Megan Rapinoe. Wambach is one of four members of the U.S. team to be featured on this week's cover of Sports Illustrated. She was comfortably gay for years within soccer but did not come out publicly until her marriage to Huffman in October 2013. It was handled in such a low-key fashion that it got very little attention, something Wambach says was by design.
This was meant, in part, Wambach said, to show that a same-sex marriage could be as typical and routine as a heterosexual one, a private ceremony and commitment with no mandate for a grand public announcement.
"I never felt like I had to have this huge party for myself about my sexuality," Wambach said. "To make a party for something that I think of as normal, for me, that just didn't seem authentic. I wanted it to be as normal as possible."
While I understand her feelings, we still need public LGBT role models. During the 2012 Olympics, searches for "Abby Wambach gay" drove a lot of traffic to our site for an article that talked about Rapinoe being and happened to have an unrelated photo of Wambach and Huffman together.
Despite everyone in the know being aware Wambach was gay during the Olympics, she still chose to not go public for more than a year after, missing a chance to show the world a high-profile LGBT athlete at the top of her game winning a gold medal. This will not be the case if the U.S. wins the World Cup this summer.