Sports have always been associated with male athletes. Unconsciously or not, our collective heads drifted instantly towards athletes like Ronaldo, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps: the most medalled, the most mediatic, those who earn the most money. It's understandable. Despite this, we're now witnessing a higher interest from girls and women in the practice of sports. Therefore, there has been an increase in the number of athletes and of their quality and competitiveness.
Nowadays, many great athletes are women with impressive records and marks of their own in their respective sports. Young girls now grow having these tremendous female athletes as role models and as an inspiration and example of empowerment – as it happened forever with boys and their idols. It’s a virtuous cycle in the making.
We choose five stellar examples to highlight:
Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player and former World nº 1 in women's tennis. She won 23 Grand Slam titles, second only to Margaret Court (24). The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her nº 1 in the world in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She reached the nº 1 ranking for the first time on July 8, 2002, at age 20. By the sixth time, she occupied the ranking for 186 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf. In total, she was nº 1 for 319 weeks, ranking third in the Open Age behind Graf and Martina Navratilova.
Simone Arianne Biles is an American artistic gymnast. With a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, Biles is the most decorated American gymnast and the third most decorated gymnast in the world, behind Vitaly Scherbo from Belarus (33 medals), and Russian Larisa Latynina (32 medals). Biles is now 23 years old and already called "the best gymnast ever."
Marta Vieira da Silva is a Brazilian footballer who acts as a striker or attacking midfielder. Currently, she plays for Orlando Pride, a team from the United States. Marta has already been chosen as the best footballer in the world for six times, five of them in a row. That’s a record not only among women but also among men. Revista Época considered her one of the 100 most influential Brazilians in 2009.
Marta is, since 2015, the greatest scorer in the history of the Brazilian national teams (both men and women), with 110 goals.
Ronda Jean Rousey is an American professional fighter, actress, writer and former mixed martial arts and judo fighter, signed with WWE as a fighter since 2018. Her long-time nickname, "Rowdy", was inherited from the late professional wrestler Roddy Piper.
After becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo (bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics), Rousey pursued a mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
She is also a successful actress and writer, appearing in films such as The Expendables 3 (2014), Furious 7 (2015) and Mile 22 (2018).
She released her autobiography My Fight/Your Fight in 2015.
Nadia Elena Comăneci is a former Romanian gymnast who competed in the artistic modality and is still regarded today as a world sporting idol. As an athlete, she won nine Olympic medals, five of them gold. Nadia was the Olympic champion on the balance beam for two times and she was the first gymnast to receive a top ten – perfect performance – in an Olympic artistic gymnastics event. She also holds four World medals and twelve European medals. At home, she was five times national champion in the general contest.
As awards go, she received the Olympic Order twice (at the time of the first distinction, she was the youngest athlete to achieve such award). She is considered one of the 100 most important women in the 20th century. She was elected the best athlete of the 20th century by the Portuguese newspaper Mundo Desportivo. Finally, the World Record Academy granted her the title of world record holder in her modality.
Future women athletes of excellence
We agree that it’s almost a heresy not to include in this list great female athletes such as Steffi Graf or Billie Jean King, who were record holders for years and incomparable athletes in their time. However, we went with four of the most significant figures of this century of sports and the unavoidable Nadia, knowing that anyone of them inspires and will continue to inspire girls and boys around the world for years to come!
We at Move Sports believe that sports are for everyone, regardless of their genre. That’s why our own youth tournaments feature girls competition in various age categories. We want to witness the birth of the next generation of great female athletes!
Check out the upcoming Portugal Rugby Youth Festival and Lisbon Football Youth Cup (to be held in this coming October) or the Lisbon Basketball Youth Cup and Lisbon Handball Youth Cup (coming in 2021), all featuring international, competitive and fun girls competitions!