"Your career is your body, and you need to keep your options open, in terms of starting a family," said Sue Bird, who is dating soccer star Megan Rapinoe

By Karen Mizoguchi
December 23, 2019 04:30 PM
Mat Hayward/Getty

Sue Bird wants fellow athletes and career-focused individuals to be aware of all their options when it comes to having a family.

The WNBA star, 39, spoke with The Washington Post recently, opening up about the reason she chose to freeze her eggs after she had been considering the procedure for years.

“I think being in a relationship changes your mind-set on it,” said Bird, who has been dating soccer star Megan Rapinoe for nearly three years.

“It’s hard to picture [life with children] when you’re both professional athletes,” the Seattle Storm star, who has been out for the season and underwent knee surgery in May, shared. “But that’s when it became like, ‘Wait a minute. Shouldn’t we take the steps to have the option, if down the road we decided we do want kids?’ It’s so hard to imagine how that fits into our lives — we know what life is like now; we can’t even have a goldfish right now!”

While she is aware that egg freezing procedures are costly (the WNBA’s health plan does not cover elective egg freezing, according to the Post), Bird hopes to normalize the conversation for women’s health off the court.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty

“As an athlete, this is a big thing,” she said. “Straight, gay, doesn’t matter. Your career is your body, and you need to keep your options open, in terms of starting a family.”

Bird added, “Obviously, there’s a lot going on in the world of female sports and specifically in the WNBA because we have our CBA (collective bargaining agreement) coming up. Just to be a pioneer in that category, it would be great for a women’s league to start talking about these things, to maybe have these options for athletes.”

The veteran basketball player did not go through the egg freezing process alone.

Bird and teammate Breanna Stewart, who is the 2018 WNBA MVP, attended an informational meeting together at a Seattle fertility clinic. The 25-year-old chose to freeze her eggs after a season-ending Achilles’ injury required surgery in April.

“Every day I had to inject something into my stomach, which is something I’d never done before,” Stewart told the Post. “I was bloated, couldn’t do the workouts I wanted to do. No twisting or anything because a lot was going on down there.”

Bird also told the publication that she shared her regrets with Stewart about not freezing her eggs at a younger age. “I was like, all right, let me do something that looks toward my future. Now I don’t have to worry about playing year-round or going overseas, getting lost in my work,” Stewart said.