Throwback bikini photos of Megan Rapinoe viral following new Sports illustrated cover

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor

US football captain Megan Rapinoe is hot news right now, with images of the sports star going viral following her World Cup win.

Rapinoe stars on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated together with her fellow player Alex Morgan.

The American team captains are pictured together following their Women’s World Cup victory on 7 July, winning 2-0 against Netherlands.

READ MORE: 'I admire Megan Rapinoe' – England coach Phil Neville offers support for USWNT star

Megan Rapinoe is becoming an internet sensation. [Photo: Getty/Sports Illustrated]

As Rapinoe’s profile surges, people are sharing throwback pictures of her shoot for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit summer edition, which was published back in May.

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The photographs were shared on Instagram by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit editor MJ Day earlier this week.

READ MORE: Megan Rapinoe is a 'walking protest'

Cue people commenting on the footballer’s “insane” body, and the “iconic” nature of the pictures.

Together with the bikini pictures, a video of Rapinoe spraying champagne while yelling, “I deserve this”, has received over 100,000 likes on Twitter – with the original poster, communications director Emmy Bengston, calling it “a mood”.

Dubbed the “most interesting player at this Women’s World Cup” by football journalist Caitlin Murray writing for The Guardian, Rapinoe is known as much for her outspoken views off-pitch as her fierce performance on it.

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In March this year, along with her team Rapinoe was one of 28 USWNT players to file a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer.

In a powerful speech at the City Hall rally for the United States women’s soccer team yesterday, she told the crowd: “This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better, we have to love more and hate less. Listen more and talk less. It is our responsibility to make this world a better place.”

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Rapinoe, who openly identifies as gay, also made a statement about her team’s diversity, adding: “We got pink hair and purple hair. We got tattoos and dreadlocks. We got white girls and black girls and everything in between. We got straight girls and gay girls.”

Sadly, she has also faced her fair share of backlash. Just yesterday it was reported by CNN that eight posters of Rapinoe were vandalised at a New York underground station, according to the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force.