Sam Kerr is the face of the Women's World Cup and will hold the hopes of the Matildas firmly on her left boot. However she will face the awkward scenario of having to play her girlfriend if Australia comes up against the USA over the next few weeks.
While Kerr is spearheading Australia's campaign, girlfriend Kristie Mewis will be one of the stars of the American team. Kerr and Mewis started dating during the Covid pandemic, but their relationship only became public knowledge at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: How to watch every minute of action
'GOOSEBUMPS': Extraordinary Matildas detail takes nation by storm
Kerr and Mewis shared a beautiful on-field moment after the USA beat the Matildas in the bronze medal game, with Mewis consoling her devastating girlfriend as they sat on the pitch. Since that very public display of affection they have gone public with their relationship - and haven't looked back.
While Kerr will be playing in her fourth World Cup, Mewis is playing in her first. The first person she called when she was selected for the USA squad was Kerr.
“I called my girlfriend immediately. I called my parents. I called my sister,” she told Gaffer magazine earlier this year. “They all have been such huge, huge people in my life through this process, because I’m sure I’ve been such a pain in the ass because I’ve been so stressed for so long.”
Kerr opened up about the fact she and Mewis would be going head-to-head, saying: “We’re just raging for the next six months to the World Cup, doing whatever we can. We both feel like we’ve been gunning for this World Cup for so long now that it’s kind of going to be like we’re just giving everything for the next six months and then it’s gonna be like a breath of fresh air.”
Kerr's biggest concern about dating a fellow international football player is the thought that they might go easy on each other on the pitch. “I think there’s this part of us where we’re both separate athletes and when we compete against each other there’s this worry that people don’t think we don’t take it seriously because you’re playing your girlfriend,” the Aussie superstar said. “That’s what I worry about most out of anything, is that our coaches or teammates don’t think that we can separate the two. I hope people know that when it’s training time or play time, it doesn’t come into it.”
Mewis said she's 'proud' to be in a relationship with Kerr and displaying their love on a global stage. “I think just being out and being two girls in love, I think if we can change one or two people’s lives and the way that they feel about each other and how comfortable they feel, then that means a lot to me,” she said.
Sam Kerr and Kristie Mewis ready for Women's World Cup
The United States are chasing an unprecedented third-consecutive Women's World Cup title, but the Matildas are warm favourites on home soil. "It's always tough being at the top because everyone's kind of chasing you and everyone will give you their best game, but there's no other place you'd rather be," Mewis told reporters on Monday.
"We want all women's teams to get better and better and we want to get better and better. We encourage it, but we obviously want to still be the best. So we're going to keep pushing the limit and everybody else can try and follow us."
Kerr will carry the hopes of the nation, starting with Thursday night's sold-out opener against Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Australia's all-time leading goal-scorer is welcoming the added pressure.
"The expectation's kind of been growing over the four years so it's been something I've learned to deal with, I've really enjoyed it," Kerr told reporters. "I'm really proud that we've got a home World Cup so to be part of this journey is amazing and I'm really, really excited for it.
"But of course everyone in Australia has a lot of expectations, but it's something I take in my stride and I try and just enjoy it - at Chelsea I've done that too, I've just enjoyed it and that's when I'm at my best. So for me it's about enjoying it and expectation and all that just comes from outside noise. I know what's expected of me from the coach, from my team and that's all that really matters right now."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.