Soccer Star Wambach: Marriage Not About Politics
For Abby Wambach, marrying partner and professional teammate Sarah Huffman was purely a statement of love, not politics.
Yet the star of the U.S. women’s national soccer team understands that as soon as news broke of their Oct. 5 ceremony in Hawaii, she became perhaps the highest-profile athlete in the national debate over same-sex marriage and a role model for advocates.
"I know that I’ll end up being a role model for many, many people out there for all kinds of reasons," Wambach said this week in her first public comments since getting married. "My first hope is for being a genuine, honest and good person, then a great soccer player and then down the line, the choice I’ve made to marry not only my best friend and teammate, but the love of my life."
Wambach and the national team play Australia on Sunday in San Antonio. In an interview this week, the 2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and international career goals leader smiled as she showed off her platinum wedding ring with inlaid diamonds and talked about the public reaction to her wedding.
News of the wedding prompted an outpouring of congratulations on the Internet, including a tweet from women’s tennis star Martina Navratilova.
Wambach and Huffman didn’t push for a story on their marriage but they also didn’t try to stop it. The couple didn’t ban cameras or phones at the ceremony, and once the news spread her agent encouraged her to use Twitter to thank people for their support.
"I’ve heard from a lot of people ... the response has been awesome," Wambach said. "I expected some backlash on some level from some people who don’t agree, but I haven’t really had any of that ... I’m pleasantly surprised by that."
Wambach and Huffman are teammates on the Western New York Flash in the National Women’s Soccer League. They had their ceremony on the island of Kauai, exchanging vows on a beach before family and friends, including several teammates.
The couple picked Hawaii because a previous trip there had been canceled. Wambach said she didn’t know Hawaii lawmakers are scheduled to meet later this month in a special session to consider legalizing gay marriage. If approved, Hawaii would join 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage.