The popularity of the AFLW has exploded since its inaugural season in 2017, with women now no longer just seen as footy WAGs, but also star athletes in their own right.
While many were initially hesitant to share information about their same-sex relationships due the risk of suffering vile abuse, that has slowly changed.
Some are now sharing the inner workings of their relationships – as many high-profile athletes do – in the hope of reducing the ‘stigma’ around same-sex couples and ensuring shocking comments stop.
Here’s proof love and footy DO mix.
Tayla Harris (Demons) and Kodi Jacques (Tigers)
Tayla Harris (left) and Kodi Jacques (right) met on the field as opposing players – and their first clash was a fiery one
Cult Demons figure and champion boxer Tayla Harris, 25, has been in a relationship with fiery Tigers midfielder Kodi Jacques, 21, since late 2020.
Harris, a four-time All Australian, launched into the national consciousness when a an photo of her now-iconic goal-kicking technique was the target of scores of vile abuse – which she quite rightly called out.
In her recent ‘Kick Like Tayla’ documentary, Harris opened up on her relationship with Jacques and the hilarious way they first met.
Harris and Jacques have been dating since late 2020, with the Demons star praising her partner for her enormous support off the field
Harris was playing for Carlton at the time and Jacques, playing for Richmond, was giving her Blues teammates a bit of lip mid-match – so the champion boxer brutally coat-hangered her on the field.
‘It’s hilarious, because I didn’t know Kodes then,’ Harris recalled.
‘She was getting into my teammates…that’s her X-factor. Kodi is very strong-minded and I love that about her. She was giving it to us, so I had to repay the favour.’
Both of their Instagram feeds are full of the pair training together and enjoying time with their border collies, Beans and Elaine (named after the Seinfield character).
Instead of sappy loved-up captions on their posts, it’s usually playful banter, like Harris trolling Jacques.
‘2 are naughty, not toilet trained and chewing everything… also Beans and I,’ she jokingly wrote on a post of the two of them with their dogs.
This Instagram post of Jacques (left) and their two dogs Elaine (puppy) and Beans (bigger dog) was captioned by Harris: ‘2 are naughty, not toilet trained and chewing everything… also Beans and I’
Harris, who is in the spotlight more than any other AFLW player – be it good or bad – said she is grateful to be able to lean on Jacques for support.
‘Kodes’ is great at that [support]. There’s things that she goes through that I try my best to give all of my support for, and vice versa,’ she told the Herald Sun recently.
‘Clearly, the most recent one was changing clubs. At home, I have three – one person and two dogs – that I can rely on to have my absolute best interests.
‘To have complete confidence that someone has only your best interests is something that I can feel fortunate for.’
Harris’ (left) relationship with Jacques (green top) is clearly well supported by her parents Lisa (hugging Jacques) and Warren (right)
The relationship is clearly well supported by Harris’ parents Warren and Lisa, who she is very close with.
Several photos on Instagram show the beaming parental unit showing affection for Jacques, with the couple coming up on their two-year anniversary.
Harris was previously in a long-term relationship with current Sydney Swan, Sarah Dargan, which ended in mid-2020.
Tayla Harris (left) with ex-partner Sarah Dargan, who currently plays for the Swans
Marijana Rajcic and Chelsea Randall (Crows)
Crows teammates Marijana Rajcic (left) and Chelsea Randall (right) have won two AFLW premierships together as well as appearing on hit reality show The Amazing Race
Rajcic, 33, and Randall, 31, have won two premierships together at the Crows and have been together for more than 18 months.
The pair publicly revealed they were in a relationship after competing together on popular reality show The Amazing Race.
While many had known about the two teammates behind the scenes, Randall revealed at the time she didn’t want them to compete as ‘girlfriends’ on the race and place more pressure on the burgeoning relationship.
Rajcic and Randall have been dating for more than 18 months after meeting as teammates
The pair are often showing how loved-up they are on social media, with Rajcic writing ‘I love doing life with you’ on a recent post celebrating Randall’s birthday.
‘Happy birthday to my best friend … You are truly one of a kind. I can’t wait for what’s to come,’ Rajcic wrote in June.
The duo also recently bought their first house together, a fixer-upper in Royal Park, a north-western suburb of Adelaide, worth somewhere in the vicinity of $550,000.
Randall and Rajcic recently bought their first house together, a fixer-upper in suburban Adelaide
It features a big yard for their two dogs, Lenny and Koda, and is a perfect place for ‘Handy Randy’, as Randall calls herself, to test her mightily impressive DIY skills, after she helped to transform her previous house.
Randall has become a vocal advocate for gay rights despite initially being hesitant to share her sexuality openly – something many female athletes experience for fear of facing abuse or stereotyping.
The Crows skipper, who has been voted by her peers as the Most Courageous player on multiple occasions, is very close to her family and recently said she found it extremely difficult coming out to her father, Brett, in particular.
Randall and Rajcic have been teammates at the Crows since 2018
She revealed she tried to tell him in person, before driving away. He rang her, with an inkling something was going on, before Randall burst into tears driving down a freeway.
‘Dad, I think I like girls. I hope you still love me … I haven’t changed as a person,’ she told podcast The Soda Room.
She needn’t have worried. Brett was incredibly supportive, and is often seen on social media with Randall and Rajcic.
Rajcic was previously the captain of W-League club Adelaide United before converting to footy while Randall is one of the most decorated players in the AFLW, as a three-time premiership winner and All Australian.
Randall was previously engaged to WA woman Roxy Logereau, before the pair split several years ago.
Brianna Davey and Abbi Maloney (Magpies)
Magpies teammates Brianna Davey (left) and Abbi Maloney (right) recently debuted their relationship on social media
Collingwood superstar and former Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey, 27, recently began dating Magpies teammate Abbi Moloney, 20.
The affectionate duo are often described by friends as ‘absolute cuties’ for their loving tributes to each other as captions on photos that show how smitten the new couple appear to be.
In one of Davey’s most recent posts on Instagram, she wished Moloney a happy birthday.
‘Happy Birthday to one of the best people in the world … Here’s a photo/video dump of how pretty and funny you are (not to mention how caring, smart and witty you are). Love you heaps and heaps ❤️,’ she wrote.
The affectionate duo are often described by friends as ‘absolute cuties’
Moloney made her debut in Collingwood forward line last year, and has already drawn plaudits for her fierce attack on the footy and marking ability.
Davey, who is currently recovering from an ACL injury, played 17 matches for the Matildas before a stunning switch to AFLW ahead of the inaugural season.
The bullish midfielder was awarded the league’s Best and Fairest in 2021, and has been named All Australian on two occasions.
Davey and Hawthorn captain Tilly Lucas-Rodd were previously in a long-term relationship, and even bought a house together in August last year before splitting.
Brianna Davey (left) with former partner Tilly Lucas-Rodd, who is currently the captain of AFLW newcomers Hawthorn
Ellie Blackburn and Deanna Berry (Bulldogs)
Deanna Berry (left) and Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn (right) have been dating for more than five years – though the dup haven’t been spotted on Instagram together recently, which is a rarity
While they haven’t been seen on each other’s Instagram feeds recently, Bulldogs teammates Deanna Berry, 24, and skipper Ellie Blackburn, 27, are one of the original AFLW power couples, having begun dating in early 2017.
Berry, who originally played for the Demons, moved to the Bulldogs in 2020 to play with Blackburn, who is one of the league’s original marquee players.
The power couple have been teammates at the Bulldogs since 2018
The dynamic duo last appeared together publicly at the AFLW awards in April, when the pair looked stunning in red and white frocks.
They have a black retriever dog named Orbit, and are often seen on their social media platforms enjoying water skiing, cycling and sunning by the pool when they’re not playing footy.
Emma Kearney (Kangaroos) and Kate Shierlaw (Saints)
Kate Shierlaw (right) kisses long-term partner Emma Kearney (left) after she won the AFLW Best and Fairest award in 2018
There was a touching moment when Kate Shierlaw, 33, kissed partner Emma Kearney, 32, after the latter won the AFLW Best and Fairest award in 2018.
They’ve even faced off as opposing skippers; Kearney with North Melbourne and Shierlaw with St Kilda.
The pair came ‘out’ as a couple last year, when they revealed the struggles with being gay athletes.
‘I don’t generally talk about my sexuality. There will still be people I meet for the first time, where I still refer to Kate as ‘my friend’,’ Kearney told the Herald Sun last year.
They go up against each other on the field from time to time, and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing
Shierlaw, who has previously been in long-term relationships with men, admitted she doesn’t feel as accepted by connections in her home town of Adelaide – but her love for Kearney trumps all.
‘Right now, I’m really out of my comfort zone, obviously,’ she said as she got emotional while describing officially ‘coming out’ about her relationship with Kearney.
‘But after this article I’m moving more to not caring … I’m probably already there.’
Shierlaw was clearly pretty happy to see her partner being announced as the best player in the league for 2018
In a sign of the incredible camaraderie across the AFLW, Kearney, who is captain of the Kangaroos, went to Saints VFLW training ahead of their first season in the big league.
She announced, to the delight of the room, that Shierlaw would be getting a second chance to continue her AFLW career – and you could hear a pin drop as she described her partner’s determination to succeed.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though.
In 2018, during a Pride Round game, Shierlaw was playing for the Blues and Kearney for the Bulldogs.
Shierlaw got Kearney a little late in a contest, which riled the Dogs star up. She shocked players, who were aware the pair were seeing each other, when she over her partner and called her ‘a f***ing dog’.
‘She [Shierlaw] didn’t speak to me for a week,’ Kearney said about the incident.
Shierlaw admitted the incident was ‘upsetting’ and revealed her Carlton teammates were in a state of disbelief.
‘I remember Darcy Vescio was on the mark, Sarah Hosking was around and everyone I think was in shock because no one got into her. Darce couldn’t believe the reaction,’ she said.
The on-field opponents reunite as partners for the 2021 AFLW Awards
Kearney represented Victoria and the Melbourne Stars in a seven-year career at the top level of cricket before focusing on footy. The fiery midfielder is one of the best gut runners in the league, earning six All Australian jumpers.
She was also one of the key Bulldogs players in their 2018 premiership triumph.
The 186cm Shierlaw is a late bloomer of sorts, but is a formidable proposition in the ruck and forward line for the Saints.
Bianca Jakobsson and Darcy Guttridge (Saints)
Saints teammates Darcy Guttridge (left) and Bianca Jakobsson (right) recently celebrated five years together
Saints stars Jakobsson, 29, and Guttridge, 22, recently celebrated their five year anniversary – and the teammates appear just as smitten as ever.
‘Five whole years. Finding your person is pretty cool, and one I’m grateful for every single day. You make me a better person, and I just keep falling in love with you,’ Jakobsson wrote in a heartwarming tribute to Guttridge on Instagram.
Guttridge was equally gushing about her long-term partner: ‘Thanks for putting up with me for half a decade. You continue to help me grow as a person. I feel so lucky to have you in my life.’
The pair are now teammates at St Kilda after Guttridge was originally drafted by the Magpies
The pair opened up on their relationship ahead of Pride Round last year, saying they were able to separate their personal and professional lives.
‘When we come here, we’re teammates. We’re here to get a job done, we just train. It doesn’t change too much else,’ Jakobsson told The Age.
‘But in saying that, it is good, because we both want the same thing now.’
Phoebe McWilliams (Blues) and Jordan Ivey (Demons)
Demons star Jordan Ivey (left) with Blues forward Phoebe McWilliams (right)
They might have to face off against each other from time to time, but that doesn’t stop the love and affection between Blues star Phoebe McWilliams, 37, and Jordan Ivey, 29.
The pair got together when they were teammates at Geelong, with Ivey first appearing on McWilliams’ social media in April, 2019.
Kara and Ebony Antonio (Dockers)
Married Dockers duo Kara (left) and Ebony Antonio (right)
In one of the most cringeworthy commentating moments in the history of AFLW, caller Mark Soderstrom referred to Dockers duo Kara and Ebony Antonio as sisters.
In news to absolutely no one other than Soderstrom, the 30 year olds are wives – not siblings.
They are the first married couple to play in the AFLW competition – but likely won’t be the last.
The pair’s social media feeds are full of loved-up tributes to each other
The Antonios got married in October 2019, and despite being together for seven years, there is no proverbial itch.
When describing her wedding as ‘the greatest day of her life’, Kara thanked her wife for ‘choosing me and thank you for making me smile every single day.’
In one recent social media post, Ebony captioned a gorgeous picture of the pair kissing with simply ‘obsessed’ alongside a heart eyes emoji, a sign of the continuing love and adoration between them.
The pair celebrate getting engaged in Bali in 2018
They were one of the first AFLW couples to talk openly about their relationship – despite facing vile abuse – in the hopes of reducing the stigma for others.
‘We try and make time to go out for dinner once a week to just kind of turn off from footy and zone out, which is quite nice,’ Antonio told the Herald Sun.
‘We’ve made a conscious effort to do that, because you kind of get stuck in a bit of a bubble when you’re training and with each other every single day.
‘It’s pretty special being on the whole rollercoaster together, and we love our banter so we take the p**s a bit which makes things a bit more enjoyable. It’s really good.’
Kara Antonio is one of the competition’s most exciting utilities, when healthy
Unfortunately, both are currently sidelined by injury. Kara, nicknamed ‘Juddy’ due to her slick kicking skills, led the Dockers for their five years and was named an All Australian in 2017.
Ebony was one of many converts to AFLW after previously playing in the WNBL. At her best, she’s one of the most exciting players in the league, and has one All Australian jumper to her credit.
The pair met when Ebony came to WAFLW club Swan Districts to try Aussie Rules – and it was love at first sight.
‘She came across quite arrogant, a bit cocky, and it just sparked my interest a little bit. I wanted to get to know her a little bit more,’ Kara told AFL.com.au.
The Antonio’s are the only married couple in the AFLW
Kara (nee Donnellan) also explained the very sweet reason behind wanting to take her wife’s surname after they tied the knot.
‘I grew up with a single mum, and my old surname was linked to my dad. I didn’t have much to do with him up until the age of nine,’ she said.
‘It was a new start of a new chapter for ourselves and our own family. I think that surname was the last thing connecting me to that part of my life. I couldn’t be … prouder to have Antonio as my surname, it’s something that connects us even more.’
Jenna Bruton and Jasmine Garner
Jasmine Garner (left) and Jenna Bruton (right) with their dogs Bronson (being held by Bruton) and Honey
The North Melbourne superstars love their dogs, Bronson (pug cross) and Honey (German Shepherd), footy and spending time in the great outdoors.
Jasmine Garner, 28, and Jenna Bruton, 26, recently celebrated their nine-year anniversary and their social media feeds are full of loving tributes.
Bruton, who works on her parents’ potato farm in Trentham, 90km north-west of Melbourne, celebrated their milestone with an Instagram photo dump full of their happiest memories.
‘9 years putting up with Plugger (Garner). Love you,’ she wrote on July 21.
Garner was ever so slightly more sarcastic in her response: ‘9 years of putting up with you complaining about a sore back.’
Garner and Bruton have been going strong for over nine years
The prodigiously talented Garner will forever be immortalised for kicking the first-ever AFLW goal when she was playing for Collingwood in the 2017 opener. She has blossomed into perhaps the best forward utility in the competition since moving to the Kangaroos.
Bruton originally didn’t nominate for the first AFLW draft due to her mother, Suzy, being diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015.
Tragically, she died just weeks ago – although every year Bruton, Garner and many of their teammates take part in Walk 4 Brain Cancer, which aims to raise money for research and raise awareness.
Fortunately, Suzy did manage to see Bruton win a premiership with the Bulldogs in 2018.
Other high profile couples
Brittany Bonnici and Ryan Pendlebury
Magpies midfielder Brittany Bonnici (right) is in a relationship with the brother of the club’s male skipper Scott Pendlebury: Ryan
Collingwood star Bonnici, 25, is in a long-term relationship with Ryan Pendlebury – the brother of Magpies skipper Scott.
The pair have been together for four and a half years, and can often be seen playfully bantering with each other on social media.
In a birthday tribute to Pendlebury on August 2, Brittany posted a video of a series of videos and pictures of him in fine form captioned: ‘Could say I’m glad I met you in the last few, could say it would’ve been a hell a lot of fun from the start. You’re the ultimate, it doesn’t get much better. Happy 30th great man’.
Pendlebury, who is a personal trainer and former VFL star, is a talented footy player like Scott, and the brothers bear a striking resemblance.
Bonnici and Pendlebury on holidays in the Northern Territory
The pair own two German Shepherds that had an adorable litter of fluffy puppies earlier this year.
Many comments on the pairs Instagram posts of each other feature suggestions that Pendlebury should ‘put a ring on it’, so perhaps there is glamorous footy wedding on the horizon?
Bonnici is one of the AFLW’s top midfielders, and was named All Australian in 2021 thanks to her tireless gut-running for the Magpies.
Sabrina Frederick and wife Lili (nee Cadee-Matthews)
Sabrina Frederick and wife Lili on their wedding day in December, 2021
AFLW and SAS Australia star Frederick, 25, and wife Lili recently welcomed their first child, Florence, to the world on August 9.
The pair married in a glamorous wedding at The Line in Melbourne in December 2021, which was attended by a number of her AFLW teammates featured in this article and celebrities like Brooke Blurton.
Frederick looked stylish in white pants and a matching coloured jacket by Effie Kats, as well as a fedora hat and brown shoes, while Lili stunned in a long white gown by Ruedesine, which featured sheer lace sleeves and a long train.
A photo from an Instagram announcement where Frederick announced to the world she and wife Lili were expecting their first child
Frederick announced their bundle of joy on Instagram recently, uploading black and white pictures with the caption: ‘Our tiny dancer made her way into the world on the 9th of August 2022, at 3:06am.’
‘Mum and baby are doing really well. We can’t wait to watch you take on the world, Florence Elton Frederick,’ she continued.
The duo had a three-year engagement due to Covid delays, and have been dating for more than four years.
Frederick and her wife recently welcomed their first child, a daughter named Florence
Frederick, originally from WA, was one of the AFLW’s first marquee players after moving to the Lions, and was named in the All Australian team in the first two years of the fledgling competition.
She’s since played for Richmond and Collingwood; but is perhaps just as well-known to many for being just one of three recruits to pass selection in the 2020 season of SAS Australia.
Famously she chose to box with 96kg ex-Wallabies star Nick Cummins out of all 15 contestants in wild scenes; and is just one of two females to pass selection.