The progress that women have made in securing equal opportunities of influence, authority, and talent in recent history is nothing short of outstanding. Although some niches are still adjusting to the presence of females, there are far more opportunities available to women today than there were only a few decades ago. Of course, woman still face challenges that might not apply to their male counterparts, but they are also presented with new situations that past generation might never have imagined.
In most circles, professional sports remains a significantly male-dominated world, which is just one of the many reasons why it is so worthwhile to pay homage to all of the influential and inspirational women in the industry. The women on the following list are just a tiny sampling of women who are making their mark on sporting history and our society, and changing the future for young girls everywhere, in sports and in general.
In a male-dominated sport known primarily for its brutality, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey has established herself as one of the biggest and most popular stars within the world of MMA. Since she first made her debut as an amateur in 2010, Rousey’s career has grown significantly, leading to many exciting achievements. For instance, in 2012 she emerged as the first female fighter to be given the opportunity to sign with UFC. Only three months later, she also became the first female fighter in the world to perform as the headline at a UFC event. Pound for pound, Rousey is the number one female MMA fighter in the world.
In addition to her success as a mixed martial artist, Rousey has also made her mark in both acting and modeling. She has starred in a number of blockbuster films, including The Expendables 3 and Furious 7, which combined have generated over $1.7 billion dollars in the box office. As a model she has appeared on the front page of ESPN magazine in their 2012 Body Issue, and she has recently been featured in Sports Illustrated, and even did a commercial for Carl’s Jr.
Rousey has also been involved in a number of philanthropic ventures, including raising money for the “Black Jaguar White Tiger foundation,” an organization dedicated to the protection of big cats.
Tennis fans in America don’t need to be reminded that a US-born male hasn’t been able to bring home the victory in a singles Grand Slam championship for more than a decade. The last time an American male managed to achieve something spectacular in tennis, it was in 2003, when Andre Agassi triumphed at the Australian Open.
Though American men might have been coming up short, one particular American woman has ensured that the US remains a tennis force to be reckoned with. The woman in question is the amazing Serena Williams―a player who has proved victorious in thirteen Grand Slams in the last decade, alongside three Olympic gold medals, and eight doubles Grand Slams. Serena alone was named the female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in 2013 and had won four straight Grand Slam singles titles before recently losing in the semis of the 2015 US Open.
Serena Williams has also been known for her unique fashion sense, both on and off the tennis court. By 2009 she had released her own line of women’s handbags, and more recently created her own line of apparel named “Aneres” (her first name spelled in reverse). While much of her fashion collection has moved towards apparel recently, her style and influence can still be seen in women’s tennis bags found in stores and online. Williams has also dabbled in modeling and appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine – the first African-American female athlete to do so. She has also done some voice work for a number of television shows and movies, including the Simpsons, Higglytown Heroes and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Both Serena and her sister Venus have a reputation for impeccable style and incredible form on the court, achieving everything from showing off how fashionable tennis can be, to making their dominance undeniable in the history of female tennis.
Basketball is yet another sport that often leaves us thinking of tall men running around in an indoor stadium. However, Brittney Griner, a former Baylor star, has only recently began her professional career in the sport and is already making a significant name for herself. The incredible 6’8″ center has had a transformative effect on the cultural landscape and future of women’s basketball.
Griner’s athleticism and style of physical play has identified her as one of the most impressive and dominant players in NCCA women’s basketball history. As a college player, Griner helped to deliver Baylor to a national title during 2012, and following her freshman season, the “Lady Bears” only ever lost one single regular conference game.
Ever since she entered into the world of professional golf, Lydia Ko has been making waves that simply cannot be ignored. At age 15, she became the youngest woman of any LPGA Tour event to claim victory at the Canadian Women’s open in 2012.
At 17, Ko became the number one female golfer in the world, and the youngest no. 1 ever to exist. In comparison to Tiger Woods, who claimed his title at 21, Ko was four years ahead of the curve! Before she even turned into a professional at age 16 during November 2013, Ko had already been ranked the top amateur in the world for approximately 130 weeks.
Women Sporting Stars
In the sphere of modern professional sports, it’s safe to say that athletics is no longer a man’s world. Women are making their mark in a wide range of different games, and showing off just how impressive girl-power can really be.