Nicknamed "Pelé in a skirt" by the "King" himself, Marta played her last Women's World Cup at 37. And his chances of title in Australia and New Zealand are slim, within a Brazilian selection far from being among the favorites.
But, before starting the competition against Panama on Monday (1:30 p.m. French time), Marta is not one challenge away, having overcome obstacles such as a poor childhood, machismo and, more recently, the worst injury of her career.
Considered by many observers as the greatest player of all time, “Rainha Marta” (Queen Marta) never won the supreme title with the Seleção.
She did not go far at the 2007 World Cup, reaching the final, just like at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, with two bitter-tasting silver medals.
The pocket striker (1.62 m) with swaying dribbling remains the top scorer in the history of the World Cups - men and women combined - with 17 goals in five editions, one goal more than the German Miroslav Klose.
“Marta is not as fast as before, she doesn't stand out as much as at the 2008 Olympics, but she remains very important to us, just by her presence,” said Sweden coach Pia Sundhage recently.
Especially since the Seleção lacks experienced players, in the absence of two other historical figures. Formiga, legendary metronome of the Brazilian team for seven Worlds, hung up his boots, and striker Cristiane, still active at 38, has not been called up to the national team since 2021.
Marta lifted the Copa América trophy three times (2003, 2010 and 2018), but she missed the last edition, won by Brazil, in 2022, due to a knee injury that sidelined her for almost a year.
"It's the first time I've been so long without playing, I suffered a lot," she said after her big comeback in February, during a match against Japan (1-0 victory) at the SheBelieves tournament.
If Marta did not obtain the same consecration as the triple world champion Pelé on the collective level, she won a quantity of individual rewards. The Queen of Brazilian football remains to this day the only one to have won the trophy for the best player in the world awarded by Fifa six times (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2018).
But Marta's main trophy is to have managed to get out of poverty after a difficult childhood in Alagoas, one of the poorest states in northeastern Brazil. UN Ambassador for Gender Equality, she is a source of inspiration for many Brazilian women who love to play football, but are often stigmatized in a very macho country.