8 Influential Women Athletes In Honor of Women’s History Month!

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are spotlighting some inspiring women athletes that have empowered the world!

Serena Williams

By now, we all have seen how Serena Williams has been empowering women and girls through her legendary championships as well as from the award-winning biographical movie, King Richard. A mother herself, Williams has openly shared her struggles balancing her life as an athlete and a mother. She had some difficulties when giving birth to her child, Olympia, along with her postpartum juggling motherhood and continuing to train as an active athlete. Serena and her sister, Venus have been a huge impact in introducing diversity to the tennis community as they grew up poor and continue to be role models for kids of color pursuing tennis.

 

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Naomi Osaka

Another rising tennis champion may be shy, but she is definitely not scared to be a fighter. Osaka uses her platform whenever she is on TV to send a message to the world. During the Black Lives Matter movement, she wore face masks bearing names of victims of police brutality. The 24-year-old is also in touch with her Asian side, growing up with a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, she also actively used her twitter to share her voice on #StopAsianHate. Osaka is also a huge advocate for mental health in sports. During the French Open, she respectfully announced that she has decided not to speak to the media in order to prioritize her mental health and later withdrew from the tournament entirely.

Simone Biles

Osaka is not the only one protecting her mental health. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has also allowed women to inspire to choose themselves over expectation and public pressure, and accepting that at times it is okay not to be okay. This came when she made the sudden decision to withdraw from her individual gymnastics performance during the Tokyo Summer Olympics as she was going through personal issues. Despite having gone through sexual assaults, the long-running champion showed the world that she is not a quitter as she revealed to the Today anchor Hoda Kotb that she wanted to dedicate her performance to fellow sexual-assualt survivors, “I feel like if there weren’t a remaining survivor in the sport, they would’ve just brushed it to the side.”

 

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Meghan Rapinoe

Along with her amazing performance as a World Cup and Olympic soccer player, Meghan Rapino has served the U.S. women’s soccer team in more ways than one. She spoke in front of President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden marking Equal Pay Day to address that despite all the wins that her and her teammates have earned, they are still facing inequality in payment with their male counterparts. Last month, the Women’s National Soccer Team recently celebrated their $24 million lawsuit settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation over unequal pay. Rapinoe, who has been fighting for this victory, told NBC News, “this is just a huge win in ensuring that we not only right the wrongs of the past, but set the next generation up for something we only dreamed of.” As a LGBTQ+ member, Rapinoe has also expressed her oppositions on proposed bills aiming to block transgender students from playing for school sports teams.


Sedona Prince

It seems like the Oregon collegiate basketball player is also following Meghan Rapinoe’s footsteps advocating for gender equity. Last March, Sedona Prince took to TikTok revealing the difference in weight rooms for the women’s team and the men’s team at NCAA tournaments. The video blew up overnight forcing NCAA to not only better the quality of the weight rooms for the women players, but also stressing the on-going inequality to be taken into action. With March Madness happening now, Prince is looking back at what happened a year ago telling USA Today, “the level of disrespect was just so blatant. When I saw it, all that anger came through like a tidal wave – and it wasn’t just mine.” She admits that it was scary for her as a college athlete to go against such a huge and powerful organization, but with all the support and responses she received, she was encouraged to “keep talking and keep using [her] voice.” She wishes that growing up, she had a role model to look up to who was “gay, outspoken, goofy, weird, just completely open” and she has become her own, inspiring other girls to stand up for themselves, “My video was the first domino to fall and the wave it produced is still rolling. What it also helped me realize is if we want change for women in sports, we have to demand it. Change is not going to come from the top. It has to start with us.”

@sedonerrr it’s 2021 and we are still fighting for bits and pieces of equality. #ncaa #inequality #fightforchange ♬ original sound – Sedona Prince

Eileen Gu

The 18-year-old freestyle skier took home a gold medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics. But this win means more to Eileen Gu, inspiring more girls to participate in sports. On her Instagram, she shared a video of herself in middle school making a speech about Title IX in sports, and sharing the importance of finding and being a representation.


Growing biculturally both in the U.S. and in China, she says she was always the only girl on sports teams back in China and wants to change the equity in sports. Inspiring girls is “a really big thing” for Gu and adds, “If I’m 80 years old and I’m looking back at my life, I don’t think the number of medals is going to matter as much as memories of reading messages from young girls saying that I was the one who inspired them to start skiing, or who showed them that it was possible to do bigger tricks and that women could do it too.” At such a young age, Gu is achieving her goals, becoming the youngest Chinese athlete to win an Olympic Winter games gold medal, a top student at Stanford, and a luxury-brand model.

Tara Davis

The Olympic long jumper is using her platform to popularize track and field and address racism. She admits that her sport may not be an exciting event to watch, but by sharing her behind-the-scenes training on her YouTube channel she is trying to change that. With her fiancé, also a Paralympic track star, she tells Sports Illustrated that it is encouraging to have someone that can relate to her experience as a trained athlete and “be each other’s No. 1 supporter.” As a Black athlete, Davis says she is lucky to have a role model like Allyson Felix to look up to when she was growing up as an aspiring athlete.

 

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Emma Raducanu

The legendary teenage tennis player is inspiring the world that age doesn’t stop girls from making history. The 18-year-old became the youngest British player to win the US Open receiving a Grand Slam title. The young tennis champion has also set to become UK’s next fashion influencer walking the red carpet at the Met Gala wearing Chanel.

 

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We can’t wait to see more history made to record them in the books of Women’s History!

About the Author

Maria Sato

Maria Sato is a senior at Emerson College majoring in journalism, with a focus in TV broadcast. As a student journalist, she has covered stories from hard news to entertainment both in the U.S. and in Japan.