The Most Inspiring Black Female Athletes
No matter what sport you follow, it seems there is a record-breaker at the top, making headlines. Yet even in modern athletics, those headlines don’t go to women as often as they ought to. Despite this being the general state of things though, there are plenty of women who climb to the top of the sports world! From tennis stars to long-distance running, there are women shattering records and outpacing everyone (men included, sometimes) who came before them.
Here specifically are some of the most inspiring black female athletes of modern times.
The Williams Sisters
Serena Williams has been playing professional tennis since she was 15, and holds several world records, including the most Grand Slam singles titles since 1968 (the beginning of the Open Era). She’s also won the Australian Open a record seven times, and is one of only 10 women to have completed the career Grand Slam (winning all four Grand Slam tournaments – in her case, multiple times each). Serena is 38 and still competing for the biggest prizes on tour, having most recently finished as the runner-up at the U.S. Open. And she’s also now the mother to an irresistible little girl!
Serena’s older sister Venus has also had a historically great career. She’s played in 84 Grand Slam competitions – the most in history – and holds four Olympic gold medals (three in doubles, with her sister).
She was also the first ever African American woman to reach number one in the Open Era, and her seven career Grand Slam titles still lead all active players aside from Serena. The two sisters have simply been a force in the tennis world for two full decades (and were the last pair to win all four doubles Grand Slam titles as well!). Their contributions to sport will never be forgotten – not least because they also helped to inspire athletes like the next young lady on our list.
This young athlete has been playing tennis nearly her whole life, but made the leap to the professional level fairly recently (right around the same age Serena Williams did). This past summer, Gauff became the youngest player ever to qualify for Wimbledon, which she did this year. Gauff beat her idol, Venus Williams, in the first round, and went on all the way to the fourth round, becoming something of a sensation in the process. She competed at the 2019 U.S. Open, too, advancing to the third round (where she lost to 2018 champion Naomi Osaka).
Gauff is proving not to have been a flash in the pan, too. Analysts universally agree that her talent is the real deal, and accordingly, she just won her first WTA singles title (defeating Jelena Ostapenko in a final win Austria). Gauff’s performance has some of the U.S. online bookies including her in their Australian Open odds projections – not as the favorite, but as someone with a reasonable shot at a title. Even if it doesn’t happen in Australia in January though, Gauff is clearly on her way to major accomplishments – and may just inspire a new generation the same way Venus and Serena inspired her.
Simone Biles is a world-renowned gymnast from the U.S. She’s 22 years old, recently became history’s most decorated gymnast, and is set to soar to even greater heights at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She already has four Olympic gold medals to her name, as well as an astonishing 19 golds from the World Championships.
Several years ago Biles completed a move that only men had ever performed in competition: a double layout half out tumbling pass, which the gymnastics world has since named after her (the Biles I).
A few years later she pulled off two more nearly-impossible moves, a triple twisting double tuck during a floor exercise and a double twisting double tuck as she dismounted from the balance beam. Those moves were coined the Biles II. The world will be watching as she competes in
what will likely be her final Olympics next summer, but she’ll be an example for young athletes long after 2020.
Brigid Kosgei is another record-breaking female athlete, and the current holder of both the Chicago Marathon and London Marathon titles. The long-distance runner broke the record for the best women’s marathon time with her win in Chicago, blowing past the previous mark by more than a minute (an eternity in distance running at the highest levels).
The 25-year-old Kenyan has also won the Honolulu Marathon twice, and set the record for the fastest time at that race by over five minutes. She’s won several half-marathons, too, including Copenhagen and Bogotá.
Women like Biles, the Williams sisters, Gauff, and Kosgei show dedication and drive that many only ever dream of tapping into. But you can draw from their inspiring performances and find the encouragement you need to be your healthiest, strongest self.
Who Is Your Favorite Athlete?
The women we’ve mentioned have worked hard to carve out a place in the sports history books. Not only have their contributions propelled sports as a whole, but they’ve also paved the way for future black athletes. Is there a black woman in sports who has inspired you? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments!