This week, the Women’s World Cup will kick off (pun intended) in Auckland, New Zealand before coming to an end on August 20 in Sydney, Australia. And while sports fans, in general, couldn’t be more excited about watching the world’s women football stars compete in “The Beautiful Game,” no one is probably more excited than U.S. fans. If you didn’t know, the U.S. Women’s National Team has taken home the prize in four out of the previous eight World Cup tournaments, including being back-to-back champs in 2015 and 2019. They are, undoubtedly, the team to beat.
It will be the first World Cup for USWNT star Lynn Williams. The forward, who during the regular season plays for the NJ/NY Gotham FC team, would love to have her own classic Brandi Chastain moment (when the icon scored the penalty kick that gave the U.S. team its second championship in 1999’s tournament — and then pulled off her shirt in celebration), she’s just happy to help the team go for gold again alongside celebrated returning stars like Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.
“I’m super excited as it’s always been a dream of mine to play for the USWNT in a World Cup,” she tells ESSENCE. “My teammates with World Cup experience have been great to help ease my nerves leading into the tournament.”
She adds, “Of course scoring in a huge moment like that would be amazing, but my focus is helping the team in any way I can.”
One thing that’s been helping the athlete and podcaster (she has a program called Snacks with fellow footballer Sam Mewis) to prepare for the sport’s biggest event is her balanced diet. Williams has been leaning on a very quick and delicious snack, GoGo squeeZ packs in their signature green pouch, for a boost of energy.
“As a pro-athlete, I’m always careful of the food I eat – since after all, food is fuel for our bodies. And as co-host to my podcast – which is coincidentally named Snacks – I know a thing or two about the best snacks out there, especially for athletes,” she says. “GoGo squeeZ offers delicious and nutritious pouches made from real fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, carrots, and pears – all with the convenience of being able to throw it into my gym bag. I also like that GoGo squeeZ pouches don’t require any refrigeration, which is perfect since I don’t have to worry about these cooking in the heat when I’m at practice.”
Her current favorites from the brand include the GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ line’s mango and peach flavors. She’s looking forward to taking them along with her to Australia and New Zealand this month.
Something else she’s looking forward to these days is marriage. Williams and her partner, former basketball player and TV personality Marley Biyendolo, announced their engagement in May. He popped the question, to her surprise, in front of their loved ones with the New York City skyline as their gorgeous backdrop on a sunny day.
“The proposal was amazing!” she recalls. “Marley did an incredible job keeping it a surprise and chose a perfect scenic location on the NYC waterfront, I couldn’t be happier about it all.”
The couple have been together since their days as athletes at Pepperdine University (she played there from 2011-2014). She tells ESSENCE their longevity as a couple has been due to their ability to get through anything by having a healthy conversation.
“We were college sweethearts and I couldn’t be happier to have him in my life,” she shares. “I’d say the key to our relationship has been our open communication and commitment to working through obstacles together.”
With a hectic summer schedule beginning, including the World Cup and next summer’s Olympic Games (and the fact that the proposal just happened), Williams is staying mum regarding wedding plans. She does, however, want the joy of the proposal to be present on the big day — and the sun, too.
“I honestly haven’t even thought about that yet,” Williams admits, laughing. “I just want everyone at the wedding to have a great time and hopefully no weather disturbances.”
Williams has so many major moments on the horizon, and we’ll be cheering her on the whole way through — to Sydney and to the altar.