Wellbeing & Motivation > Female Sporting Legends Throughout History

Female Sporting Legends Throughout History

8th Mar 24

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating some of history’s greatest female sporting legends from around the globe. From Tennis legend Serena Williams to one of the greatest golfers of all time Laura Davies, there is so much inspiration for girls and women everywhere.

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Serena Williams

Probably one of the most well-known Tennis players in the world, Serena Williams’s victories have made her nothing short of a sporting legend. Serena Williams started playing Tennis professionally in 1995, at just 14 years old, and has gone on to win 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and 3 doubles Gold Medals at the Olympics with her sister Venus Williams, and 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other person in the Open Era.

Her commitment to the sport and continuous wins have set a new standard for Tennis, proving that it is very much a woman’s sport and that anyone can achieve their dreams.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles is considered one of the greatest gymnasts of all time. She started gymnastics in 2003 at 6 years old, and by 2013, she was already showing the world her amazing skills on the mats. After winning two gold medals at the Antwerp Championships with her signature move, “the Biles”, she went on to win four World Championship golds in 2014 and another four in 2015. At the Rio Olympics in 2016, at just 19 years old, there was no doubt she would be a force to be reckoned with when she went on to win gold in the all-around, team, vault and floor gymnastics and bronze in the balance beam. And she didn’t stop there. In 2019, she entered the World Championships and walked away with five more gold medals.

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she won two medals whilst raising vital awareness of the mental health pressures surrounding athletes and became an advocate for mental health. After taking a break from the sport and focusing on her personal life, in 2023, she won five new medals at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, bringing her medal total to a massive 37! At just 26 years old, she is the most decorated gymnast in history.

Wilma Rudolph

One of the earliest female Sporting Legends, Wilma Rudolf was the first American woman Sprinter to win three gold medals in the 1960 Rome Olympics. As a child, she suffered from Polio which caused strength loss in her left leg and foot, but despite this she trained and became the fastest woman in the world (1960), completing the 100m in 11.2 seconds and the 200m in 22.9 seconds.

As a Black woman, her success and commitment to the sport gained her worldwide recognition, and she became an iconic figure for both black and female athletes everywhere. In 1960 and 1961, she was awarded the Associate Press Female Athlete of the Year before retiring in 1962 as the world record-holder in the 100m and 200m sprinting and 4x100m relay. She went on to be a coach for other athletes wanting to compete.


In 2022, England’s team the Lionesses created history when they defeated Germany in the UEFA Women’s Euros final. Their win made them England’s first senior association football team, in both men and women’s football, to win a major trophy since the men’s team over 50 years ago in 1966, and the match was watched by 14.4 million people.

The England win in the UEFA Women’s Euros final forced women’s and girl’s football into the media, and the Lionesses’ success caused girls and women across the country to take up football.

There are now twice as many registered female football teams in England as there were seven years ago… The largest increase in the period was in 2022-23 – the season after the Lionesses won Euro 2022 – when almost 1,500 new teams registered. – BBC News, 2024

Ronda Rousey

Professional wrestler, mixed martial artist and female sporting legend Ronda Rousey is the only woman to win both a UFC and WWE championship. Ronda Rousey is considered one of the greatest athletes, with a number of wins under her belt. She was the first American woman to win a bronze Judo medal at the 2008 Bejing Olympics, she defended her title in the first women’s UFC fight, she won the WWE Championships five times and was the first woman to headline a pay-per-view event. In 2018 she was the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Outside of wrestling and martial arts, Rousey has starred in several Hollywood blockbusters, showing that women don’t have to be tied to one profession.

Dame Kelly Holmes

One of the UK’s most popular athletes, Dame Kelly Holmes, has a number of wins and medals to her name. At 17, she joined the British Army for 10 years before she began competing in running competitively. Throughout the 90s and early 00s, she won several medals for middle-distance running at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and received an MBE for her services in the Armed Forces.

In what happened to be her final athletics event, she won Gold in both the 800m and 1500m at the 2004 Athens Olympics, making her the first British woman to win Gold in both events. She retired at the peak of her career in 2004 and went on to be appointed a Damehood in 2005 for her services to Sport. She is now a household name for her motivational speaking and her work for charities and trusts, especially the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.

Ellie Simmonds

At just 13 years old, female sporting legend Ellie Simmonds took the Paralympics and the Sporting world by storm when she took part in the Swimming event at the 2008 Bejing Paralympics for the first time and brought home 2 Gold medals for Team GB. As a result of her fantastic win and bringing more awareness to the Paralympics, she became the youngest athlete to be awarded the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award. In 2009, she was given an MBE. She went on to win medals in the Championships and the Paralympics and was given the honour of carrying the GB flag at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In 2021, she retired from sports, having broken several world records and being a five-time Paralympic Champion.

Laura Davies

Laura Davis is one of the greatest British golfers and one of the most successful British female golfers of all time. Over her long career, she has won 87 tours and 4 LPGA Tour Major Tournaments. Outside of these wins, she has won a number of championships and medals for golfing, has been awarded an MBE and CBE and was the first golfer to win on five different tours in one year, earning her the Sports Journalists’ Association Sportswoman of the Year award in 1995 and 1996.

In 2018, Laura Davis became the first woman to compete in the men’s European Tour and claimed the first U.S. Senior Women’s Open by scoring an amazing 16-under-par. She’s an amazing role model for women and athletes everywhere, especially in a predominantly male sport, showing that anything is possible if you’re committed to something you love.

Danica Patrick

Another female sporting legend is American Open-Wheel racer Danica Patrick. She is the most successful woman in American open-wheel racing, having accomplished many firsts. She was the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish in the Indianapolis 500 in 2005, as well as being the first woman to win the IndyCar Series in 2008 at the Indy Japan 300.

In 2013, she took part in the NASCAR Cup Series, where she delivered her record-setting performance in the 55th Daytona 500 race by becoming the first woman to win a pole when she set the fastest qualifying time before finishing 8th, the highest finishing position ever. In a heavily male sport, she inspired more women to take part in racing and motorsports.


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