International Girls and Women in Sports Day is a day to celebrate the achievements and contributions of female athletes around the world. This year, we want to take a moment to recognize eight of the greatest female athletes of all time and pay homage to the impact they have had on sports.
These women not only broke barriers and shattered records, but they inspired generations of young girls to pursue their athletic dreams and strive for excellence. From tennis legends to gymnastics prodigies, these female athletes have left an indelible mark on the world of sports and continue to serve as role models for girls everywhere.
With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Serena holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles won by a player in the Open Era and is considered one of the best tennis players of all time. Throughout her career, Williams has been a fierce competitor and trailblazer for women’s tennis, winning multiple Olympic gold medals and inspiring a generation of female tennis players. Off the court, she is an advocate for social justice and women’s rights, using her platform to speak out on important issues and make a positive impact on the world.
Babe Didrickson Zaharias
Babe Didrikson Zaharias was an American athlete who competed in basketball, track and field, and golf. A true triple threat, she won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics, setting four world records in the process. Zaharias went on to become a professional golfer, winning 10 major championships and becoming one of the founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
Throughout her career, Zaharias was known for her versatility, competitiveness, and sportsmanship, paving the way for future generations of female athletes. While perhaps not immediately remembered by modern athletes, Babe paved the way for many female athletes and her role in the foundation of the LPGA opened the doors for thousands of young female golfers.
Larisa Latynina was a Soviet gymnast who competed in the 1950s and 1960s. She is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time and holds the record for the most Olympic medals won by a gymnast, with a total of 18. Latynina won nine gold medals, five silver medals, and four bronze medals over the course of three Olympic Games.
She was known for her elegance, grace, and versatility, mastering a wide range of gymnastics events and winning medals in both individual and team competitions. Latynina’s success inspired a generation of gymnasts in the Soviet Union and around the world and her legacy continues to be celebrated in the sport today.
Mia Hamm is a former American professional soccer player who is also always in the conversation regarding the greatest in her field. Hamm played for the United States women’s national soccer team from 1987 to 2004, earning 275 caps and scoring 158 international goals. She won two FIFA Women’s World Cup championships (1991 and 1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004).
Hamm was also a key player for the Washington Freedom and the Carolina Courage in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). After retiring from playing, Hamm became a coach and a spokesperson for several organizations that promote women’s sports. She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007 and continues to inspire and encourage young girls to play and pursue their soccer dreams.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is a Jamaican sprinter who has won numerous Olympic and World Championship medals in the 100m and 200m events, including multiple golds in both. Fraser-Pryce made her Olympic debut at the 2008 Beijing Games, where she won gold in the 100m. She went on to defend her title at the 2012 London Olympics and again at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, becoming the first woman in history to win three consecutive Olympic 100m titles.
In addition to her Olympic success, Fraser-Pryce has also won multiple World Championship gold medals in the 100m and 4x100m relay. Throughout her career, she has been a trailblazer for women’s sprinting and a role model for young athletes around the world.
Allyson Felix has won multiple Olympic and World Championship medals in the 400m and 4x400m relay events and holds the record for the most World Championship gold medals won by a female track and field athlete. Throughout her career, Felix has been a leader in advocating for athletes’ rights and has used her platform to raise awareness about important social issues. Allyson’s dominance and career longevity has been a modern inspiration, and she is the most decorated American in track and field history, male or female.
Lottie Dod was an English sportswoman who made a significant impact in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was a trailblazer in women’s sports, excelling in multiple disciplines including tennis, golf, archery, and hockey.
Dod is best known for her success in tennis, becoming the youngest player to win the Wimbledon singles championship at the age of 15 and going on to win the championship five more times. Her exceptional talent and success in multiple sports earned her the reputation of being one of the greatest female athletes of her time. Lottie Dod’s achievements served as an inspiration to future generations of women in sports and continue to be celebrated on International Women in Sports Day.
Sue Bird is a former American basketball player whose storied career earned her the record for longest WNBA career. She played in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) for over two decades and has won numerous championships and individual awards. Bird was the first overall pick in the 2002 WNBA draft and soon became one of the league’s most successful players, earning multiple All-Star selections and All-WNBA honors. She has also been a key member of the United States women’s national basketball team, winning five Olympic gold medals and four World Championship titles.
Throughout her career, Bird has been a leader on and off the court, using her platform to advocate for social justice and LGBTQ rights. She continues to inspire and motivate young athletes around the world and her impact on the sport of women’s basketball will be remembered for years to come.