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Rapinoe named SI Sportsperson of the Year, also most-tweeted-about female athlete of 2019

Megan Rapinoe (Credit: Getty Images)

United States women’s national team superstar Megan Rapinoe was named the 2019 Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, making her only the fourth woman to win the prestigious award alone.

In addition to helping lead the USWNT to a World Cup title in France this past summer, she also was a prominent global voice campaigning for equal pay for female athletes, not only on her own team relative to the US men’s national team but females overall.

She also combined all that with a fiery outspokenness that also saw her touch on political topics.

Only Chris Evert, Mary Decker, and Serena Williams have preceded Rapinoe among women winning the award alone. Several others have been shared honors, including the entire 1999 USWNT that also won the Women’s World Cup.

“She is just the fourth woman in the award’s 66-year history to win it unaccompanied, a feat that is both a remarkable athletic achievement and a reflection of entrenched gender biases,” SI writer Jenny Vrentas wrote in her profile of Rapinoe. “[She] challenged perceptions of her, of female athletes, of all women.”

The recognition of Rapinoe is SI’s first awarding of the annual Sportsperson of the Year award since editorial control of the publication was taken over earlier this year by digital content operation The Maven. The new operators reportedly plan to make SI a monthly publication and have engaged a wide series of shifts in staffing.

Rapinoe, meanwhile, was also named the most-discussed female athlete on Twitter in 2019, as soccer dominated the social media platform’s sports engagement this year. She topped the Twitter list ahead of Williams.

Rapinoe’s USWNT team-mate Alex Morgan, who celebrated a World Cup goal against England with an iconic tea-sipping celebration, was fourth.

The top three male athletes ranking high on the list were also soccer players: Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Kylian Mbappe (No. 8) and Keisuke Honda (No. 9) also in the top 10. Meanwhile, nine of the top 10 most tweeted about sports teams were soccer clubs, all located out of the US, with the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers propping up the list in 10th place.

The most tweeted about sports teams of 2019:
1 FC Barcelona
2 Real Madrid
3 Manchester United
4 Liverpool FC
5 Paris Saint-Germain
6 Juventus FC
7 Manchester City
8 AFC Ajax
9 Flamengo
10 Los Angeles Lakers

Most tweeted about female athletes:
1 Megan Rapinoe
2 Serena Williams
3 Naomi Osaka
4 Alex Morgan
5 Simone Biles
6 Becky Lynch
7 Marta
8 Ronda Rousey
9 Maria Sharapova
10 Katelyn Ohashi

Most tweeted about male athletes:
1 Neymar
2 Lionel Messi
3 Cristiano Ronaldo
4 LeBron James
5 Kawhi Leonard
6 Kobe Bryant
7 Tom Brady
8 Kylian Mbappe
9 Keisuke Honda
10 Antonio Brown