Celebrating Women’s History Month: Inspirational Female Athletes
March is Women’s History Month, at Body Love Athletica we’d like to celebrate by highlighting inspirational female athletes. These athletes not only inspire our own fitness goals, but also encourage us to be the strongest woman inside and out. Their personal strengths and triumphs show us what we are capable of in our personal lives. They’ve gone after (and continue to go after) their dreams and they also give us physical fitness inspiration. They’ve influenced us and they can influence you too! Here are 5 female athletes that are inspirational women in history.
It all started in May 2005 when the world was introduced to Danica at the Indianapolis 500. Not only did she finish fourth, she led 19 laps. She was the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish. In April 2008 she became the first woman to win a major league open-wheel race in a North American series at the IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300. According to her biography, the victory set her up to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine (her second time), which made her the fourth racecar driver to be featured on the cover of the popular magazine (joining Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Al Unser). In a male dominated sport, it was great to see her race in 61 races over the course of 5 years.
Lisa Leslie is easily recognized as one of the women who helped make WNBA famous. The league was incorporated in 1996 and started playing in 1997. Basketball was known largely as a male sport but that was changed by the WNBA and powerhouse players like Lisa. She’s gone on to win MVP three times (2001, 2004, 2006), two WNBA Titles (2001, 2002), All-Star Game MVP (1999, 2001, 2002), as well as other WNBA awards. She’s also gone on to make four consecutive Olympic appearances and has earned four gold medals. According to her biography, she retired in 2009, after a 12 year career with the Los Angeles Sparks she retired in 2009. She returned two years later as an investor to the team and is currently one of the owners. She’s even started the Lisa Leslie Basketball & Leadership Academy. Her story from successful basketball player to a team owner, who is sharing her knowledge of the sport through her academy, is awe-inspiring.
Known as the fastest female swimmer in America, Dara Torres has won 12 medals in her Olympic career. She was first introduced to the Olympics in 1984 when they were held in Los Angeles. She went to three consecutive Summer Olympics (1984, 1988, 1992) before retiring. But after several years out of competitive swimming, she made a comeback in the 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney. At 33 years of age, she became the oldest woman to win an Olympic medal in swimming. She also won a total of five medals, more than her younger team mates. In 2008 she made another return to the Summer Olympics, this time in Beijing. According to her biography, at age 41, she became the oldest U.S. Olympic swimmer in history and the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympic Games. Dara Torres inspired other older athletes to get back into competing. She inspires us to train hard and to achieve our goals, no matter the age!
Bonnie Blair is the most decorated woman in Winter Olympic history. As a speed skater, she set a world record and won her first Olympic gold medal at the 1988 Winter Olympics (in the 500 meters). At the 1994 Games in Norway she became the first American woman to win five gold medals as well as the first American Olympian to win gold medals in the same event in three consecutive Games. In 2004 she was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. According to her biography she was renowned as the most decorated American athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics. Apolo Ohno succeeded Blair at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
As Muhammad Ali’s daughter, she paved her own way as a professional boxer from 1999 to 2007. Laila Ali was a business owner of a nail salon before she started a career in boxing. With 24 wins, she retired undefeated and held the World Boxing Council, Women’s International Boxing Association, International Women’s Boxing Federation, and International Boxing Association. Her match against Jacqueline “Jacqui” Frazier (daughter of former world Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier) was the first Pay Per View boxing card ever to be headlined by women. Laila Ali went from being a successful business owner to an undefeated boxing champion. Her father’s legacy lived on through her, as she brought a lot of attention back to women’s boxing.
This list cannot be complete without including one of the most popular female athletes in the world. The Women’s Tennis Association has Serena Williams ranked as the #1 women’s player in singles. The first time she achieved this feat was in 2002. She’s been ranked #1 seven times. She also holds the most major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined amongst active players. She holds a record of 39 major titles (which makes her third on the all-time list). In fact, she’s the only tennis player in history (male or female) to have won single titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only player ever to have won 2 of the 4 Majors, 7 times each (7 Wimbledon titles and 7 Australian Open titles). With her continued success and determination she is setting her sights on breaking more records (including her own). Although there have been popular female tennis players in the past like Steffi Graff, Monica Seles, and Martina Navratilova (to name a few) Serena Williams has led some commentators, players, and sports writers to regard her as the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Motivational Women That Never Gave Up!
These six inspirational female athletes are not just important for sports, they are important women in history. They’ve influenced the way society has seen male dominated sports, like racecar driving, basketball, and even boxing. They’ve broken records for both men and women in their sport, like Bonnie Blair and Serena Williams. These historical women have motivated us to keep going beyond societal barriers and insecurities. They persevered and achieved milestones. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight these special women for encouraging our fitness and life goals and paving the way for female athletes to be embraced in their sports.