WWE superstar Becky Lynch has had quite a year. The 33-year-old defeated Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey and SmackDown women's champ Charlotte Flair in April 2019 at the first all-female WrestleMania main event in WWE history, claiming both titles in the Winner-Take-All match at WrestleMania 35. She followed that up with the longest reign as Raw women's champion, holding the belt for 399 days. But for this WWE superstar, total domination in the ring is just one aspect of her championship life.
Last fall, Lynch partnered with Special Olympics -- a sports organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities -- to develop the fitness video series "School of Strength." Lynch, who has worked with Special Olympics since 2015, wanted to help make an impact beyond the ring and expand her role with the organization. Special Olympics released the campaign in response to athletes' need for at-home workouts during the coronavirus pandemic.
And then came another twist in Lynch's life. She and her fiancé, fellow WWE headliner Seth Rollins, found out they are expecting their first child in December. Lynch announced the news earlier this month on the promotion's "Monday Night Raw," relinquishing the Raw women's title.
Lynch talked to espnW about the lessons she has learned from working with Special Olympics, the triumphs of the past year and the next chapter in her life: being a mom.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
espnW: Over the years, you've met Special Olympics athletes before and after WWE events. You've also recorded video messages, wishing them good luck before major competitions. Why is this connection so important to you?
Becky Lynch: Well, the message with Special Olympics is it's a movement to include, right? And it's ending the stigma and showing we all should show our support and be involved. And I think if I can do any small amount, whatever that is, whether that be giving time or doing an appearance, then I should do it.
espnW: What does it mean to you to share your fitness expertise with Special Olympics athletes during these unprecedented times?
BL: Fitness is something that is such an important part of my life, and I think it's so good for anybody and everybody just mentally, physically and community-wise. It's so important for them to keep up their fitness. And this was an easy way to do it. And of course, then the COVID-19 hit, and it's just been perfect that these videos are available now. So hopefully once all of this subsides, those athletes will be able to go back to it strong as ever without skipping a beat.
espnW: What's been your biggest takeaway from working with the athletes?
BL: To approach everything with enthusiasm, and if you do that, then everybody's better off. The people that you work with, the people that you're around, the people that are watching ... everybody is better off. And it's one of those things that, when I watch these athletes, they're all having so much fun, and when you're having fun and you're going out there doing what you love and you approach it with such enthusiasm and energy, then that's infectious, and everybody catches on to that.
espnW: Speaking of your own career, you recently announced that you are expecting your first child. How do you feel stepping away from the ring at this time during your pregnancy?
BL: Well, it's tough because I've given my whole life to wrestling and to moving forward in my career. But this was a choice that, for me, felt like the right one. Because it is wild that a lot of women still have to choose between their athletics or a family. And I didn't want to have to choose that. For me, this was the right time to go and start a family, something that I've always wanted to do. And so I feel like I've achieved nearly everything I could achieve in wrestling. I think there's nothing more important than family. And I'm so excited to experience that and to have this other person that is half me and half the love of my life that I get to show love.
espnW: You've become an inspiration to many fans and athletes, including Special Olympics athletes. But in your own life, whom do you look up to when it comes to other superstar women athletes who balance motherhood and career?
espnW: How do you feel knowing that the option is available to continue your career post-baby, as demonstrated by these other WWE superstars?
BL: That's something that I've always preached and wanted women to have that equality. And of course, to be on the level with the male performers and be on the same level in terms of pay, in terms of treatment. But also, this kind of goes hand in hand where a guy can go and have a kid and doesn't have to miss a beat in his career. Unfortunately, we do. But that's also a fortunate thing because we get to experience things that they never will, but also it just doesn't mean that it's got to be the end for a career in any line. And I think a lot of people have proved that, and I hope to join them.
espnW: Looking back on this past year in your career and personal life, how has your life changed?
BL: Apart from now being pregnant, I think personally just being happy. I have a great family, great friends and now a new family. It's weird. I don't know that life has even changed that much, apart from the obvious. But it's one of those things where no matter what goal you achieve, no matter where you get to on your journey, you always have an idea of what it's going to look like or how you're going to be, but really you're the same person. You've just done some cool things. And then you move on to the next cool thing. I remember in 2019 everybody asking how are you going to top this year. And I had absolutely no idea, and here I am topping last year!
espnW: What are your plans to return to the ring? Is that something you're even thinking about right now?
BL: Yeah. It's one of those things where I know what I feel and think as a person without a child. I don't know what that's going to look like when I do have one, and that's my priority. I'll tell you, it'll give me more motivation than ever, I could imagine. But this isn't the end of me, one way or the other.
Looking for more information on the "School of Strength" series? Click here.