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Influential female athletes detailed their experience navigating gender and sports in interviews with "Axios on HBO."

The big picture: The U.S. women's national soccer team winning their second consecutive FIFA World Cup last year widely amplified calls for pay equality in sports. But female athletes still remain underpaid compared to their male counterparts.

  • Nneka Ogwumike, a leading WNBA player, said: "We don't need to change the game. You have to change how you're presenting it to people so that they can appreciate it for what it is. But I do think that because of the inequality in women's sports, it creates natural businesswomen. It creates natural fighters and natural pioneers."
  • Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, recounted harassment by men over her participation: "I really for a very split second wanted to step off the course. ... And I hadn't even understood anything about the feminist movement up to that point. And suddenly, it just all came down on me. By the time I crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted to be a better athlete and I knew I wanted to create those opportunities."
  • Billie Jean King, a tennis legend, said: "We have the same wants the guys do. No one has to be an activist. But I think as an athlete we have a unique opportunity and we need to use our platform to make this world a better place. And it's happening now. For some reason, this generation's all hopped up, and I love it."
  • Ilana Kloss, a tennis champion, praised progress on pay, but noted there's still work to be done: "Where we fall short is: Where are the woman tournament owners? Where are the woman tournament directors? Where are the woman coaches? And you have to be at the table. Otherwise, you're on the menu. And so I think for women and athletes, keep tryin' to get to the table because at least you're in the discussion and your voice can be heard."
  • Kendall Coyne Schofield, a hockey player and Olympic gold medalist, recounted the circumstances leading to the founding of the Professional Women's Hockey Player's Association: "The reality is that there's no professional women's hockey players that can make a sustainable living solely playing the game. Last year, I played in a professional league, and my salary was $7,000. ... And so collectively 200 players from all over the world came together and said, 'We need to make a difference.'"

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

North Korea claims latest missile test new weapon launched from submarine

North Korean state media claims the country's military fired this missile on Tuesday. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

North Korean state media announced that a detected ballistic missile launch off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed weapon test-fired from a submarine.

Why it matters: Pyongyang's latest in a series of recent missile launches into the sea happened hours after U.S. officials emphasized their commitment to restart negotiations on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, which have stalled since talks broke down during the Trump administration, AP notes.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.