"You know, right now it's easy. I don't have to navigate anything or explain really anything to her," the soccer legend told E! News in an interview last March. "But one day I'll have to explain to her why she's not given an equal seat at the table or why she's not seen the same as a boy in and out of sports. And why she's not always given equal opportunity."
Fortunately for Charlie, Mom is an effing badass who has dedicated her life to changing that for her daughter's generation and each one that comes after. You know, when she's not busy winning Olympic gold medals, World Cup trophies and pretty much every honor that FIFA and ESPY hand out.
Because the day before she spoke to E! News, fitting in an interview while driving her daughter to see Dad Servando Carrasco compete with the Fort Lauderdale CF, the Orlando Pride striker launched TOGETHXR with fellow sports icons Sue Bird, Simone Manuel and Chloe Kim.
A platform designed to amplify the stories of "the next Olympians, the next world champions," said Morgan, the goal is to remind the world that nearly half of today's athletes are woman and they're pretty f--king good at what they do. (Lest we forget, it was just two years ago that the entire country was cheering Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and co. on to another dominating World Cup victory.)
And while Morgan—whose journey back to the pitch post-pregnancy is documented in TOGETHXR's new four-part, docu-series Ready for Anything dropping Sept. 8—is fully aware that she may not be the benefactor in her continued pursuit for equality, she's hopeful that as Charlie gets older, "I'll have to explain less and less because the fights that we do are going to create that equal opportunity."
For years, she continued, she's been butting up against barriers "that have been clawed out, but not necessarily broken down," and she's here to kick them over once and for all. "At this point, I feel like I'm fully in it," she explained. "And I understand that I'm not always going to reap the benefits of the fight that I'm fighting for every single day. But as long as the next generation and my daughter can come up and face less inequalities and feel like they're actually getting a seat at the table. You know, then I feel like my job is done there."
Because, frankly, the situation as it stands "definitely gets tiresome," Morgan admitted. "You kind of think to yourself, 'Am I missing something? Is there a reason that it's not more equal? Is there a reason we're not making more progress on the equality front?'"
While male athletes command multimillion-dollar contracts for simply doing their jobs, women are forced to juggle multiple side gigs to make a decent living. "Every female athlete today needs to be the best at doing interviews, needs to carry herself in the best way to get appearance and sponsorships and companies that want to work with her, needs to always put a smile on her face," Morgan explained of the myriad requirements that come with being a woman in sports. "There are all these things that female athletes need to do in order to compensate for the lack of compensation or the lack of financial stability within her sport."
Even returning to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup as defending champs, Morgan noted, "I was just shocked at the under preparation from the host countries." (Hence their recently settled lawsuit for equitable working conditions including flights, hotel accommodations and professional support staff, though their fight for equal pay continues on.)
For Morgan, the untenable situation sparked the first seed of an idea. "Every single time we went to one of these major tournaments, we brought in way more money than they ever expected," she said. "And so I thought to myself, you know, it's just so frustrating to feel like you're put into a box and to feel like your capabilities are only as much as someone invests in you, as someone really gives you the microphone for. So I thought I want to provide that platform. I want to give myself and all these amazing women the microphone that they so deserve."
Though her likeness undoubtedly covers more than a few aspiring athletes' walls, growing up in southern California during the '90s, "I didn't have the opportunity to be inspired by other fellow female athletes, because I didn't see them on TV enough," she noted. "There wasn't as much accessibility to that."
So with women currently only comprising four to eight percent of total sports coverage, she and her contemporaries are eager to change that with TOGETHXR highlighting "the generation that's coming after us." Creating content about up-and-comers not just in the world of athletics, but also lifestyle, culture and activism, they're looking to provide "that opportunity for girls and woman to tell their stories."
They hope that group will also be the one to finally pocket the type of cash male athletes have been banking for decades.
"I hope and expect that that happens—that soccer players and female athletes are able to finish their career and have millions and millions in the bank, as male athletes do, currently today," she said of the ideal sea change. "I feel like if I look back at my daughter playing or in a few generations and they're making so much more for just doing their job, I mean, I'll feel pretty happy."
She and Orlando teammates like Sydney Leroux, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are carving out another important space in their sport. "We now have four moms on the team. And that, I think, is the most of any team I've ever been on," said Morgan of her band of mothers. "And so I lean on them a lot, every single day."
But as nice as it is to have a squad at her side, it was the Olympian who pushed herself from pregnancy to postpartum through a freaking pandemic and back to playing on a worldwide stage and nabbing bronze at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Her first game back saw her competing with the national team in a friendly against the Netherlands. "I actually cried after the game because I feel like I was just flooded with all of these emotions that I didn't anticipate but it was just, like, it was a long journey back," she explained. "And I felt like I needed to prove to myself that I could do these. I could be an amazing mom and an amazing soccer player. And I think it was kind of like showing myself and also so many other women that they can do that as well."
Naturally, her sidekick has been with her the whole way.
"I mean she is into soccer games," Morgan said of her daughter who celebrated her first birthday May 7. "She will actually watch and follow the ball. It's pretty amazing." But that's nothing compared to the rush Morgan gets from bringing Charlie onto the field for post-game celebrations.
"My husband actually said that he's always looked forward to taking his daughter on the field after and walking around with her and I always thought, 'Oh, that's so sweet,'" she shared. "But I guess I never realized just how important that was and what an accomplishment that really was and especially as a mom who went through the nine months of pregnancy, birthing in and coming back to play during a pandemic. I'm proud of the journey that I've taken."
As for if Charlie will have her own journey that takes her to the 2039 World Cup, considering her genetics, it's at least a possibility. (Plus she's already formed quite the squad with the other tiny members of Orlando Pride's next generation.)
"I hope so, but I'm not going to set high expectations on her," said Morgan of her daughter becoming an athlete. "We'll see how I am as a soccer mom on the sideline," she continued, noting it will likely require more than a little patiences on her part. "I really hope I'm a calm one."
Until she's handing out orange slices and screaming at yellow card-toting refs, she'll appreciate the chance to bring her girl up in an ever-changing world. As glass ceilings start to crack, she intends on celebrating each one. Take Vice President Kamala Harris' November victory, for instance. "For her not even knowing that there was not a woman in the White House before her time, like, that's amazing," she said of Charlie. "It's little things like that that you're like, 'That's a f--king win!'"
Take it from someone who's notched more than a few.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 at 12 a.m. PT.