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If you Google WNBA star Sue Bird, one of the first things you’ll discover is that, at the age of 41, she’s the oldest player in the league.
It’s an accomplishment Sue is super proud of, but she hasn’t always relished the attention on her age—for very good reason.
“At first it felt kind of annoying,” she admits, “because I started getting questions like, ‘What do you want to do when you’re done playing?’ when I turned 30. It felt so sudden to be putting me in the grave!”
Sudden and silly. Far from done, Sue continues to play at a high level—despite injuries over the years—thanks to a “healthy balance” of training (weight lifting, Pilates), meditation (she swears by the Headspace app), and sleep.
And she’s trying to reframe the way women are portrayed in the media with the new initiative TOGETHXR, cofounded with athletes Alex Morgan, Chloe Kim, and Simone Manuel. “Hopefully, I can help change the narrative around what it means to be an older player.”
Below, Sue's tips for staying at the top of your game.
Welcome the “New You” After a Setback
“If you get injured or have surgery, you’re probably not going to be the exact same player or person on the other side. And that’s okay. The sooner you embrace it, the better off you’re going to be. Open your eyes to a new world versus trying to be what you were.”
Get out of your head for a minute—or 10
“The way I play the game of basketball is really cerebral. I’m a point guard, so it’s like a puzzle. Anytime I can give my brain a rest, it goes a long way toward helping. That’s how meditating makes a difference. When the 10 minutes is over, I feel a little lighter.”
5: The number of Olympic gold medals Sue’s won. She’s one of only two Olympic basketballers to hit that record.
This article appears in the November 2021 issue of Women’s Health. Become a Women's Health+ member now.
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