WNBA star Breanna Stewart on prioritizing women in sport

lN SHEIn the monthly Office Hours series, we ask people in positions of power to guide us through their first jobs, worst jobs, and everything in between. this month we spoke to the 27-year-old WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart, the Seattle Storm forward who helped Team USA take goldthe Tokyo Olympics. Out of court, Stewart is raising 2-month-old Ruby with wife Marta Xargay Casademont and promoting a brand new partnership with Puma, which she calls “the start of something very special.”already.” As part of collaboration, Stewart debuted a line of co-branded clothing called Overdue and will release her own signature shoe, making her the only 10th player in WNBA history to feature a signature design. “Ppeople need to get behind women and women in sport,” Stewart says. “We should have done that already, and that’s where the theme ‘overdue’ comes from.” Below, Stewart reveals how parenthood changed her life, why she teamed up with Puma, and her ambitions to open a bakery one day.

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My first job

I worked at the local YMCA for a while. I was in the gym cleaning up and stuff. I think that was one of my first and only jobs before I started playing basketball seriously. I was making minimum wage, and my big takeaway was what it took to commit. When you’re young, you want a job because you want money, but no. If you want this job, you have to sacrifice and commit to it and show up on time.

When I realized that basketball would be my career

The moment I knew I wanted to play professional basketball was in high school when I started getting interested in colleges. I realized I wanted to play in college, and then I moved on and played in the WNBA. My family was super supportive. It’s just me and my brother, but I was older and had the experience of being a basketball player getting a scholarship, playing with US teams and navigating new opportunities. My family was very excited and happy for me, and they also wanted me to be able to make the decisions and choices that I thought were best. At the same time, my parents were the first to let me know that if I didn’t want to play basketball at any time, that was okay. They support me because I love the sport.

The best advice I’ve gotten

It probably belonged to UConn coach Auriemma. He showed me how to work harder than anyone else. He helped me understand that the skills I had and could potentially continue to grow would set me apart if I knew how to work hard.

Why female athletes should be a priority

The way I’ve been approached to ask for more is by continuing to do my best. How I perform on the basketball court will continue to give me more opportunities and more value, and things like that. But I also ask companies to appreciate me and women’s basketball. We have to change the game and go as far as what female athletes deserve because we put ourselves through a rut and still don’t always get rewarded.

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Using my platform to make the world a better place

Yes, we are basketball players first and foremost and what we do on the court gives us a bigger platform. But at the same time, when basketball is gone, we are still human. I want to do my part to make this country and this world a better place. I want to use my platform and voice for people who don’t. Getting out there and seeing all the things in the country and the world that we still struggle with is clearly a priority for me.

Why I teamed up with Puma to create ‘Overdue’

I’m super new to Puma, but they’ve been there from the start. They are one of the first companies to really promote female athletes and promote me. The “overdue” concept for the line is so simple, but it has a lot of meaning. There have been nine other female athletes who have had this opportunity before me, but we are at a point in the world where people have to get behind women in the sport. It is too late. I am really proud to represent Puma and be a part of this trendsetting new line.

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How my priorities changed when I became a mother

I just focus on one thing at a time, one day at a time. Being a new mom to Ruby is the most important thing in my life, and also the best thing that ever happened to me. So I embrace that, but also try to be a role model for her, just like I am a role model for other young children or young adults.

This interview has been slightly edited and abbreviated for clarity.

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