There are so many tlented athletes out there, but we’re shining a spotlight on our fellow female athletes, who not only dominate in their athletic careers but inspire us to push harder and never give up–their talent, perseverance, and strength have us in awe.
1. Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland is the epitome of the American dream. She began dancing at age 13 (very late in the game for aspiring dancers) while living with her mother and five siblings in a single motel room. Just three months after she took her first class, she was en pointe, and two years later, she was performing at a professional level. Despite being told many times that she didn’t have the “right body” for ballet, as well as being a black woman in a predominately white art form, Misty eventually made her way to the American Ballet Theatre (joining in 2001). By 2015, not only did she make her debut as the starring role of Odette/Odile in the company’s production of Swan Lake, but she was also promoted to principal dancer in the company, making her the first female African-American dancer to do so in the company’s 75-year history!
2. PAIGE ALMS
If big waves don’t give you the chills, nothing will, and Paige Alms conquers them every year off the shore of Pe’ahi, Maui, at the infamous surf spot “Jaws.” Now a three time Jaws event winner, Paige is a force to be reckoned with in the surf world. It’s only a matter of time before she competitng head-to-head with the men, as female surfers push for equal pay and the right to compete in co-ed competitions. You can watch Paige charge big wves in the documentary “Paige” which came out just last month!
3. Chloe Kim
Chloe Kim was the star of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang where she became the youngest woman to win the gold medal in the Women’s Snowboarding halfpipe competition (she was just 17 years old at the time!) after completing back-to-back 1080 spins. Just last year, Kim won her first world championship in the halfpipe and took home her fifth X Games title. Here’s hoping we get to see her compete for the gold in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing!
4. Mirai Nagasu
In 2018, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to land the triple axel (only the third woman in history at the Olympics!). This was no easy feat, as the iconic move had Mirai practicing her form on a pulley system for weeks leading up to the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. The triple axel is considered the most difficult jump in figure skating. A skater takes off on their forward foot, completes three and a half rotations in the air, and lands on their back foot with 550 pounds of pressure coming down. It’s a gravity-defying stunt which Mirai executed flawlessly, and proved that you don’t need a gold medal to make history!
5. Simone Biles
As the most decorated World Championship American gymnast (14 medals total: 10 gold, two silver, two bronze), Simone Biles is living proof that hard work pays off! During her time on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team (dubbed the “Final Five”) at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Biles set the record for most gold medals in women’s gymnastics at a single Games. Biles is clearly a force to be reckoned with, and it looks like she’s not stopping any time soon! Since the Olympics, Simone has been named Associated Press‘ Female Athlete of the Year, USOC‘s Athlete of the Year, and One of the Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine.
6. Maria Sharapova
After being gifted her first tennis racket when she was only four years old, Maria Sharapova knew tennis would hold a special place in her heart forever–and she was right! Since going professional at 14 years old, Sharapova has gone on to become one of the best tennis players in the world. Despite a shoulder injury in 2007 that severely affected her performance, she was still ranked among the top 5 women’s tennis players that year! What’s more? She is one of ten women (and the only Russian!) to hold the prestigious Career Grand Slam.
7. Gabby Douglas
Gabby Douglas has been taking the gymnastics world by storm. Douglas was a member of the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics teams, known as the “Fierce Five” and the “Final Five,” respectively. She has taken home gold in both the Team and Individual all-around competitions, becoming the first woman of color to do so, as well as the first African-American gymnast in Olympic history to become the Individual All-Around champion. And, she’s just 23 years old!
8. Shalane Flanagan
Shalane Flanagan always dreamed of winning the New York City Marathon, and in 2017, her dream became a reality. Flanagan crossed the finish line ahead of three-time champion, Kenyan Mary Keitany, in two hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds making history as the first American woman to win the NYC Marathon in 40 years. But the inspiration doesn’t stop there! Later on in the day, Shalane returned to the finish line to hand out medals to the runners whose personal goals were to just complete the marathon. Now that’s sportmanship!
9. Serena Williams
Serena Williams has been a dominating force in women’s tennis (and sports in general) for quite a long time; she currently holds a total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, which puts her tied for second on the all-time list! Williams has broken all sorts of records during her career and is considered among many to be one of the best, if not the best, women’s tennis player of all time. And on top of all that, she’s a new mom, inspiring women around the world with her unwavering motivation and strength.