A little over a hundred years ago, the most famous sporting event in the world, the Olympics, lacked one very important demographic. Women. Courtesy of many years of gender-based discrimination and inequality, females were not invited to the ancient competition where athletes try to out-do each other in countless disciplines. Nowadays, fortunately, the situation is much different. In fact, some of the most influential and popular people in sports right now are women. So, who are some examples of females that changed how the world perceives the gender of sports?
There has never been a male player in the history of tennis to achieve what Serena Williams has done. Winning her first grand slam at only seventeen, she now holds 23 titles that stretch in two decades. Additionally, she has 8 more second-place trophies as she reached a mind-boggling 31 finals. This record exceeds Roger Federer’s 20 titles by a considerable margin. More importantly, however, Serena has broken the glass ceiling more times than one can even count during her career. Her achievements, longevity, and consistency go beyond what many people deemed possible. Not to mention that the last grand slam she won in Australia was achieved while being in the early stages of pregnancy.
Female fighting sports lacked the interest that male fighters attracted for years. Although the reasons remain vaguely explained and mostly unclarified, there have been many women who did not let this stop them from pursuing their dream careers. One of them was the Ultimate Fighting Champion Ronda Rousey. During her series of 12 straight wins, only three opponents managed to last more than one round. More impressively, her last three title-defending fights lasted a combined total of 64 seconds in the octagon. Thus, the dominance that she held over the UFC’s female ranks remains untouched by any fighter in this sport ever.
According to the Chief Executive Officer at Letarte Luxe, Alison McFerran, reaching the Hall of Fame in any sport is the most impressive feat an athlete can strive for. For a former Olympic winner, Dawn Staley, however, the induction into the Hall of Fame was just the beginning. The reason why is the fact that she went on to pursue an even more lucrative coaching career. Having started back in the early 2000s, she has won four SEC Coach of the Year and Championship titles. More importantly, she was named the United States Basketball Coach of the Year in 2017. And if these were somehow not enough, her resume comes with three gold medals from three different Olympics.
Obviously, not every sport that involves iconic females is going to be mainstream. This is why Alison McFerran reminds that individuals like Danica Patrick must also be taken into account. For those unfamiliar, she is a former race driver who participated in multiple driving disciplines and leagues during her career. During that time, she shattered countless records and became one of only a handful of women to attain success in a predominantly male sport. Her list of achievements includes things like winning the pole position for the Daytona 500, earning a top-ten spot at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and finishing in the fourth spot in Sam’s Town 300 Nationwide Series Race.
Although a lot of sports discriminated against females until fairly recently, the Olympics have been relatively diverse for a better part of the 20th century. Thus, many success stories from female icons come from disciplines in this area. A perfect example would be the Russian record-breaking pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva. Even though she is still active and competes regularly, she already has many awards that many other athletes never reached. For instance, she has three Olympic medals, four World Championship medals, and five World Indoor Championship medals. It is important to note, however, that these awards are just minor scratches of the surface of her pole-vaulting accomplishments.
Being the daughter of one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, means that there will be some incredibly large shoes to fill. For Leila Ali, however, success came naturally as a byproduct of her hard work, dedication, and talents. To better quantify her fighting endeavors, it is enough to mention that she had 24 fights and has won every single one of them while knocking out 21 of those opponents.