Megan Rapinoe begins retirement with successful surgery to repair torn Achilles

OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe, right, stays down after an injury as teammates midfielder Rose Lavelle (16) and midfielder Jess Fishlock, center, check on her during the first half of the NWSL Championship soccer game against NJ/NY Gotham, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Megan Rapinoe's playing career ended in just about the worst way possible. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

After a brutal ending to her playing career, Megan Rapinoe started her retirement 1-0.

The former OL Reign and U.S. women's national team star underwent successful surgery, led by Dr. Martin O'Malley, to repair her torn Achilles tendon Wednesday and will immediately begin her recovery process in retirement, the Reign announced.

Rapinoe provided her own update via her Instagram story, showing herself resting at home under the care of her partner, former WNBA star Sue Bird. The caption:

"surgery a success. home, resting, being taken care of (@sbird10) thank you for all the love, well wishes and good vibes sent my way"

Rapinoe tore the ligament three minutes into the final match of her career, going down with a non-contact injury on the grass field of San Diego's Snapdragon Stadium while pressing a Gotham FC opponent in the NWSL championship game. She later said she felt "a huge pop" when she pushed off the ankle and quickly realized what happened.

It was a surreal, bitter moment as Rapinoe's teammates, opponents and fans realized what was happening, that one of the most distinguished careers in USWNT history was ending before their eyes, 87 minutes and stoppage time before she was supposed to either hoist her first NWSL championship trophy or graciously bow out.

After Rapinoe limped off the field in tears, hugging Gotham star and longtime USWNT teammate Ali Krieger on her way out, she remained on the sideline to support her teammates, and sometimes required the inverse by climbing on backup goalkeeper Laurel Ivory's back during celebrations.

The Reign eventually lost 2-1 to Gotham, completing the day's arc.

Rapinoe didn't deny her heartbreak after the game, but was upbeat in a black comedy sort of way. As Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell documented, she wore a surgical walking boot, said she couldn't feel where the Achilles tendon was and joked about receiving "the Aaron Rodgers treatment," before bluntly stating: "This is f***ed up."

She also maintained perspective:

"I've had an incredible career that I never could've dreamed of, did s*** that has never been done before," she said. "It's been unbelievable. So I think overall, I do have a real peace, and a deep sense of gratitude, to be able to play this game for as long as I have. Now it's just annoying, I have all this rehab coming up. Other than that, I'm looking forward to retirement, and looking forward to my new role in the game."

That rehab is now here, and it remains to be seen what else awaits Rapinoe in her retirement.