Throughout the years, there have been multiple women who shaped women’s sports. These women include Serena Williams, Nadia Comaneci, Simone Biles, and many others who are known for breaking the world of sports. Each woman did something record-breaking and defeated the odds against them to earn their place at the top of their sport. While many women are constantly breaking barriers and changing the world of sports, here are a few and their memorable mark they made on history.
At just 17 years old, Serena Williams won her first ever Grand Slam beating Martina Hingis who was ranked No. 1 in the world. The tennis Grand Slam involves winning all four major tennis championships in a calendar year. At the 1999 US Open, 18-year-old Hingis was ranked No. 1 and Williams was ranked sixth at 17 years old. Williams’ older sister Venus was ranked third in the world but lost to Hingis in the semifinals. Serena was expected to grow and become a stronger player than Venus, however, no one expected her to have that edge and experience this young.
Serena Williams had a lot of difficult competition to overcome to reach the final. Those competitors included four eventual Hall of Famers: Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles, and Lindsay Davenport. After the 1999 competition, Serena went on to win a total of 23 grand slam singles titles. Hingis never won another major in singles even though she had multiple chances.
Over the years Serena Williams remained at the top of the sport. At 40 years old, she has won three Olympic golds and 75 titles in her career.
Nadia Comaneci was 14 years old when she scored a “Perfect 10” on the uneven bars. It happened at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, and it was the first ever Perfect 10 in history. It is hard to reach a perfect score but that did not stop Comaneci who got six more Perfect 10s. She kept performing with exceptional skills and technique and won two more golds in the 1980 Olympics for balance beam and floor.
She was also as innovative as she was technical. Comaneci was the first gymnast to perform an aerial walkover and an aerial cartwheel-back handspring series. Additionally, she debuted multiple dismounts and a double back salto on the floor. Nadia Comaneci ended her Olympic career with five gold, three silver, and one bronze medal.
Simone Biles is one of the most-decorated female gymnasts in the world. With seven olympic medals and 25 world championship medals, Biles is known for her powerful and dynamic routines.
Biles first appeared at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. There, she was able to earn gold medals in the team event, individual all-around, floor, and vault, becoming the fifth female gymnast to earn four gold medals in a single Olympic Game. Biles then took a break from gymnastics and competed in the 2018 World Championships where she would win in all five events.
The following years Biles made history again by winning five gold medals in the world championship which had not been done in more than six decades. Biles participated in the 2020 Tokyo Games which were delayed until 2021, but she withdrew from the competition after suffering from a mental block.
Still, Biles has four signature moves named after her. The “Biles on the Floor” is a double layout with a half-twist which means she lands without seeing the floor. The second move named after her is the “Biles II” which is a triple-double, meaning Biles flips twices while twisting three times. The “Biles on the Vault” is considered one of the most difficult vaults in women’s gymnastics. Finally, the “Biles on the Balance Beam” is a double-double dismount, meaning she twists twice while doing a double backflip.
Simone Biles is one of the most decorated gymnasts which is well deserved and seen through her significant number of skills named after her. Although Biles has no intention of returning to gymnastics, she has left a legacy on the sport over the past couple of years and will be considered the best for a long time to come.
Every sport is continuously evolving with women driving the change. Biles, Comaneci, and Williams are just a few great examples of women creating change in sports. While there is no way to predict what is to come in the future for sports, women will be leading the changing and continuously inspiring others.