Most iconic female athletes of the past century | Sunday Observer

Most iconic female athletes of the past century

During the last century, women in sports have been making an impact and serving as inspirations to those who wish to accomplish the same.

It started with names like Wilma Rudolph and Billie Jean King but has grown so much more to include the Williams sisters, Megan Rapinoe, and Katie Ledecky.

According to a 2018 Nielsen report on the rise of women's sports, 84% of general sports fans now have an interest in women's sports.

Below, we take you through the most iconic female athletes that have helped put women's sports in the spotlight.

Wilma Rudolph

African American sprinter Wilma Rudolph was the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. She overcame the loss of strength in her left leg and foot, caused by polio at five years old, to become the fasted woman in the world at the 1960 Olympics. She holds the record for the 100 meters at 11.2 seconds and 200 meters at 22.9 seconds.

Rudolph gained international recognition during the 1960 Olympics because of worldwide television coverage and became an iconic figure for black and female athletes.

During the peak of the civil rights movement, Rudolph was a trailblazer for the rights of African Americans and women. She broke the gender barrier of all-male events in track and field, and her legacy lives on today.

Lindsey Vonn

Lindsey Vonn is one of only two female skiers to win four World Cup overall championships. She won three consecutive titles from 2008-10 and another in 2012. She was also the first American woman to win a gold medal in the downhill, which she did at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Vonn won her 20th World Cup crystal globe title in 2016 to surpass Ingemar Stenmark for the overall record for men or women. She is also one of six women to win a World Cup race in all five disciplines of alpine skiing She is one of the greatest skiers of all-time behind three Olympic medals, four World Cup titles, 82 World Cup victories, and two World Championship gold medals, among other accomplishments. Vonn has missed part

s of several seasons as a result of injuries, which ultimately pushed her to retire in 2019.

Alex Morgan
 
Alex Morgan is the co-captain for the United States Women's Soccer Team and won her second consecutive FIFA World Cup championship in 2019. She debuted in the World Cup in 2011, where the team won silver.

In 2012, Morgan recorded 28 goals and 21 assists to become the second American woman to score 20 goals and 20 assists in the same calendar year alongside Mia Hamm. She was also the sixth and youngest US player to score 20 goals in a single year.

Since being named to the senior US team in 2019, Morgan has accumulated 169 caps and 107 goals.

She was also one of the first women's soccer players to appear on the cover of a FIFA video game. Off the field, Morgan is part of the US soccer women fighting for equal pay.

Nastia Liukin
 
Nastia Liukin was a pivotal member of the US gymnastics team during three World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

She won the 2008 Olympic all-around, as well as five Olympic medals, which tied the record for most medals won by an American gymnast in a single non-boycotted Olympic Games. Simone Biles later also tied the record.

A four-time all-around US national champion, Liukin's strongest events were the uneven bars and balance beam. She attempted a comeback in 2011 with hopes of making the 2012 Olympic team, but fell several times during the Olympic Trials and retired in 2012. She is now a gymnastics analyst for NBC Sports and hosts an annual Nastia Liukin Cup to support the growth of gymnastics.

Serena Williams
 
Serena Williams is highly regarded as one of the best female tennis players of the Open Era. Her victories have shaped her into an inspirational figure in the sport, especially to children, but she has also been met with backlash by others.

Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players and tied for third on the all-time list. She is second in the Open Era.

Her 23 Grand Slam singles titles is a record for the most tournament wins in the Open Era.

In 2019, she was the only woman on the list of the world's highest-paid athletes, according to Forbes.

Along with her sister Venus Williams, the two are considered pioneers of a new era for women in tennis that is focused on power.

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