The past 10 years have been an exciting time for women in sport.
Shifting social attitudes have helped usher in exciting moments such as the introduction of new sports for women in the Olympics: boxing in 2012, rugby and golf in 2016, and skateboarding, karate, climbing, baseball and surfing in 2018.
To celebrate what we hope is a new era of acceptance and opportunity for female athletes, we’re taking a look at the women who’ve paved the way over the last 10 years.
Here are ten of the most important sportswomen of the decade.
1. Dame Kelly Holmes
This iconic British athlete won two gold medals for 800 and 1500 metres at the 2004 Olympics, holds the UK record for 600m, 800m and 1000m distances, and on top of this is a dedicated advocate for mental health awareness.
2. Jessica Ennis-Hill
A track and field athlete with many strings to her bow, Jessica Ennis-Hill has been a heptathlon champion three times over, competing in the 2012 Olympics and breaking records for high jump, the 100m hurdles and pentathlon.
3. Lindsey Vonn
This American alpine skier shot to fame in 2008, when she first won the skiing World Cup for the first time, which she went on to do again in both 2009 and 2010. She is also one of just six female athletes to have won medals for each of the five areas of alpine skiing.
4. Simone Biles
The floor was hers at the 2016 Olympics; Simone Biles is an all-round gold medalist for both vault and floor gymnastics. As of 2019, she holds a whopping 25 World medals for gymnastics – more than any other gymnast.
5. Serena Williams
When you think of the greatest women in sport, Serena Williams will probably be top of your list. The former number one has won more singles titles than any woman or man since 1968. She and her sister Venus have together won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.
6. Venus Williams
Serena’s older sister and an incredibly accomplished player in her own right, Venus is often credited with transforming the world of tennis for female players. Venus has won four gold Olympic medals for tennis and seven Grand Slam singles titles.
7. Alex Morgan
In 2019, Alex Morgan broke records by becoming the youngest member of the national US women’s pro soccer team. She helped the team win not only the FIFA Women’s World Cup but also an Olympic gold medal, and all before she turned 30.
8. Katie Ledecky
Ledecky won a gold medal for swimming the 800 metre freestyle at the 2012 Olympics while she was still in her teens. A year later, she smashed two world records for the 800m and 1500m freestyle; in 2016, she broke the women’s world record at the Olympics for the 800m, and is predicted to do yet more come 2020.
9. Elena Delle Donne
Delle Donne’s 6 foot 5 frame has helped her achieve significant success within pro basketball, winning herself an impressive list of accolades including the prestigious WNBA MVP award. The athlete holds a 26-0 record for basketball games played, and her career shows no sign of slowing down.
10. Ellie Simmonds
This British swimmer made waves in the paralympics, and has even been awarded an OBE for her contribution to sport. After winning two gold medals in the 2008 Summer Paralympics when she was just 13, Simmonds went on to beat the world record for 400m and win another gold medal at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
The last decade brought us some incredible performances and personalities from women in sport, and we’re sure the next 10 years and beyond has even more in store.
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