There’s never a bad time to highlight some of the most impressive female athletes, but since it’s Women’s History Month, it’s even more appropriate. From baseball to gymnastics to basketball, women are making history all across the sports industry, and recognition for their accomplishments is long overdue. Not only do these women have historic achievements within the athletic realm, but they have also dedicated their lives to helping other women get involved too. If you want to learn about some of these women who are breaking barriers, read on for more about four female athletes with incredibly inspiring stories.
1. Serena Williams
It’s impossible to make a list of the most inspiring women in sports without including Serena Williams. Her dedication to tennis started at age four, and through the support of her family and her own drive, she was able to find success quickly. Williams had to overcome obstacles related to her gender and her race for a long time during her entire career, and never allowed it to stop her from competing. While her talent is otherworldly, the amount of time and effort Williams put into becoming the best is what carried her from being an incredibly talented child to one of the most impressive and accomplished people to ever play sports.
2. Simone Biles
At only 19 years old, Biles went from rising star to a household name and has become the most decorated American gymnast of all time. She’s always received high marks for poise and grace under pressure, especially for someone so young. In her early childhood, her success was far from guaranteed. Her birth mother was unable to care for her and eventually, her maternal grandmother stepped in to help, and Simone’s journey began in earnest. This triumph over difficult circumstances illustrates the epitome of the American dream.
Gymnastics is one of the few sports that includes an element of needing to perform in a stylish way, in addition to athletic prowess. While talent is always the most important, there’s no denying the influence of bright color, glitter, and rhinestones on sports like gymnastics and figure skating. Women like Simone prove once and for all that it’s more than possible to care about how glam your nail polish or toenail designs look and still be a tough, talented athlete.
3. Deena Kastor
Deena Kastor is an American distance runner who won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, in addition to eight national cross country championships, and numerous other achievements. She even won the 2003 Jesse Owens Award and is currently a member of the New York Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, but an injury almost derailed her career entirely. She could’ve easily retired as the holder of many records in distance running, including an Olympic bronze medal, after suffering an injury including a broken bone during the Beijing Olympics. but she went on to set even more records after her recovery.
For anyone looking to get into running themselves, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re hydrated and your track is safe to run on. A running track repair guide can also be a good idea for anyone looking to create a safe running environment. Deena’s story proves not just the importance of persistence, but also the importance of recovery and taking care of your body.
4. Billie Jean King
It’s hard to deny that Billie Jean King isn’t just a legend, but one of the true leaders of the broader movement to promote women in sports. She’s become known for her activism in retirement, but even as a player, she was always at the forefront of the women’s movement, especially after beating famed misogynist, by his own admission, Bobby Riggs. Her victory helped destroy stereotypes, and in the same year, she was instrumental in helping women split off to create the Women’s Tennis Association. Billie Jean King’s influence both on and off the court is unparalleled.
While historically, women’s accomplishments in areas like athletics have been underappreciated and undervalued, women’s accomplishments in sports are being recognized more than ever. Not only that, but women’s leagues continue to grow their mainstream audience. With more exposure to leagues like the WNBA and the talented athletes that participate in them, there’s no limit to how popular women’s sports can become in the United States. Women like these athletes don’t just inspire and entertain us all, they’re role models for a generation of younger girls who hope to follow in their footsteps one day.