As a part of Women’s History month, BigTeams finds it important to highlight the most influential women in sports. These women have carved out a path for girls who never really had a sports hero to look up to, whether it be on or off the field, court, or track. We have women from the past and present that represent up-and-coming generations.
Serena & Venus Williams
“If the sun comes up, I have a chance.” – Venus Williams
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” – Serena Williams
You know we had to start with this dynamic duo, straight outta Compton. Serena and Venus Williams took over the tennis world and their names are known globally, whether you are into tennis or not. Serena has won 23 grand slam singles titles and Venus has won 7. Notably, Venus was the first black woman to be ranked number 1 in the world for singles back in 2002. The sisters teamed up to take home 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles throughout their careers. Off the court, Venus supports various charities, for example, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Elton John AIDS Foundation, and many more. Serena actually started her own charity, self-named, the Serena Williams Fund. This fund focuses on making people’s lives better by promoting equity; through education, gender, race, disability, or anything else that stands in the way of someone achieving their goals and living their best possible life (Charity Buzz). These two incredible athletes are inspirations on and off the court and that is why we needed to recognize them.
“Success is a project that is always under construction.” – Pat Summitt
We’ve all had a coach who we looked up to and truly believed in. Pat Summitt was this coach for many basketball players. She grew up playing basketball herself and even went to the point of winning the gold at the Pan-American games in 1975. Did we mention Summitt was even the co-captain of the team the following year? Talk about star power! She took the position of coaching the American collegiate women’s basketball team for the University of Tennessee in 1974. This turned into an impressive 38-year coaching career. Throughout those years, she led her team to 8 National Championships and won 1,098 games. More games than any other NCAA basketball coach, men’s or women’s. Literally incredible if you ask us! This record was recently broken 2 years ago by Tara VanDerveer at Stanford University. Summit was recognized as NCAA Coach of the Year 7 times and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. Pat Summitt left a mark on the sports world and continues to inspire players and coaches to this day.
“When we, as a nation, put our minds to something, when we truly choose to care about something, change always happens.” – Megan Rapinoe
Not only is Megan Rapinoe an influential leader for the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, but also in the LGBTQIA+ community and the gender equality fight. She helped lead her team to the World Cup, triumphantly winning it in 2015 and 2019. Rapinoe was named the best female player in the world when she was awarded the Ballon d’Or and FIFA’s Women’s Player of the Year. The performance of her and her teammates was unstoppable, but their paychecks from their own organization didn’t reflect that. The field conditions, transportation, pay, respect, etc. were severely lacking for the USWNT compared to their male counterparts, so Rapinoe and her teammates decided to take a stand. They ended up in court with the United States Soccer Federation to fight for equal pay. After a long battle, the USWNT settled its case against the USSF for $24 million dollars. This has been an inspiration for women everywhere who are victims of the gender pay gap. Rapinoe is also a huge advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. She’s not afraid to use her platform and voice to stand up for what she believes in and that’s what makes her a fearless leader.
“I’ve never really seen myself as a ‘girl driver’. I’m just a driver.” – Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick has had the need for speed since the age of 10. For many of her accomplishments, she was the first woman to reach those feats. She was the first woman to be presented as Rookie of the Year back in 2005. She was quickly becoming popular when she was named the most popular driver in 2005, 2006, and 2007 by Indy Racing League. When racing in the Indianapolis 500, which only 3 other women before her did (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, and Sarah Fisher), she lead the race three times for a total of 19 laps. Another first for women that Patrick has achieved. Later in her successful career, Patrick moved to NASCAR full-time and landed the pole position in the Daytona 500. Take a guess, was she the first woman to start a Sprint Cup from the pole position? Yep! As you can see, Danica Patrick broke through the barrier of this male-dominated sport and conquered it.
“I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw’s and I throw my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” – Mo’ne Davis
We have talked about some really iconic names, but have you heard of Mo’ne Davis? When only 13 years old, Davis was the talk of the town at the Little League World Series. She was a baseball pitcher from Philadelphia who was throwing 70 mph fastballs. She was the first girl to win a Little League World Series game and the first to pitch a shutout game. Since then, Davis has been pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Hampton University. She hasn’t hung up her hat quite yet. She made the switch to softball to play for her University’s team. Davis was playing three sports at the varsity level in high school; soccer, basketball, and softball. With the skills and knowledge she possesses of sports, Davis has dabbled in sports broadcasting. Mo’ne Davis is still figuring out what she wants to do in life, but she has set the record straight that she is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Pat Summitt, Megan Rapinoe, Danica Patrick, and Mo’ne Davis have at least one thing in common: Being some of the most influential women in sports. We have been looking up to these relentless, courageous leaders to give us the inspiration to better ourselves. Whether it be the fight for equal pay or giving your all in the game, you can look to these ladies to give you the grit.
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Danica Patrick. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Danica-Patrick
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Megan Rapinoe. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Megan-Rapinoe
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Pat Summitt. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pat-Summitt
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Serena Williams. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Serena-Williams
Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Venus Williams. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 15, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Venus-Williams
Where is mo’ne davis now? Little League World series legend working to become a broadcaster. Sporting News. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/mone-davis-little-league-world-series/1k12um9z8gibo11m94x5snjnx0