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Originally published January 24, 2013 at 8:02 PM | Page modified January 25, 2013 at 7:34 AM

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Hope Solo: 'I'm the happiest I've ever been in my personal life. I'm happily married'

Goalkeeper Hope Solo will play for Reign FC, the Seattle team in the new National Women's Soccer League. Solo was comfortable Thursday in her first interview with Seattle media since her marriage to former Husky football star Jerramy Stevens.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The goalkeeper for Reign FC, a new women's pro soccer team, was holding a news conference Thursday not on a playing field after a practice but in a downtown Seattle office, the first sign this was an unusual event.

The fact there were as many personal questions asked as soccer-related was another clue.

Such is life for Hope Solo.

The international spotlight has closely followed the Richland native everywhere — from winning Olympic gold medals to controversies all of kinds and, finally, back to her home state, where she will serve as the face of Seattle's team in the recently formed National Women's Soccer League.

Solo, looking confident and comfortable, reflected on a roller coaster 2012 in her first interview with local reporters since her husband, former Washington football star Jerramy Stevens, was arrested the day before their November wedding (charges were never filed).

"It's been a crazy year, as always — the story of my life — but it's been a great year," said Solo, 31. "Right now, I'm the happiest I've ever been in my personal life. I'm happily married. Yeah, there's lots of ups and downs, but that's what makes us strong is getting through them all."

Solo said she understands the scrutiny of being a public figure, but that such attention can lead to misperceptions, particularly in how she's portrayed.

"I'm in the spotlight, but not the truth," Solo said. "That's hard to accept, but that is unfortunately kind of how the world is and how the media is.

"Whether it's with Hollywood, whether it's with sports figures, whether it's the president, that's kind of how it works. I'm realistic and I understand that. That's why it's important for me to know who I am, to know I'm living my life the way I want to live, and that I am happy. At the end of the day, I can't really let myself get too angry about outside opinions that are or aren't true."

So is there an added challenge being in Seattle, where Solo and Stevens — warts and all — are so well known in the community?

"We're known in the community for doing good things," Solo said. "We do many local events, many charities, so I think we should be just fine."

A return to soccer after a six-week break should help.

And Seattle has already seen a narrative somewhat similar to Solo's — a hometown goalkeeper and national-team star returning to lead a new team and, potentially, end a career — in Kasey Keller's stint with Sounders FC in MLS.

Solo is ready to take that success a step further.

"I want to bring this city a championship, and I want to bring notoriety to the game," she said. "I want to give back to this city and show them the beautiful game. Most of the time, they get to see that high level of play on TV, during the World Cups, during the Olympics; now we're bringing it here to the city."

Solo, who will report to the U.S. national team on Feb. 2, said she's looking to play three or four more years internationally. Winning her first Women's World Cup is the top remaining goal before retirement — perhaps another Olympic gold-medal run, too.

On the club level, she might play even longer and hopes to end her career here.

"I guess I could play until I'm 50 here in Seattle," Solo said with a smile. "Pull a Kasey Keller. ... Sorry, Kasey."

And then?

"I'm not quite sure what direction my life will take post-playing career," she said, mentioning the possibilities of broadcasting or being a goalkeepers coach.

All that is assured, it seems, is the attention that will follow until then and beyond.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @joshuamayers

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