Heads up: One of them may or may not be best friends with Taylor Swift
From the latest This Girl Can campaign to the fantastic World Cup success of the England women’s football team, female sport has never been bigger (or cooler). But who should we be paying attention to? We’ve found the best female sports stars around the world and hunted down their top tips for success.
It’s safe to say that Serena Williams is totally tennis royalty. One of the greatest female players of all time; she’s a household name across the globe – not to mention BFFs with Taylor Swift. The American champion started playing tennis at the age of five, and while she was initially coached by her father Richard Williams, she now dominates the tennis court and is the master of intimidating her competitors. And if that wasn’t success enough, the self confessed fashionista has her own custom-designed Nike apparel line, her own clothing line (Aneres) and her HSN collection of handbags and jewellery. Oh, and she’s also opened two Secondary Schools in Kenya and is an ambassador for UNICEF. Crikey.
Greatest moment: Naming one is difficult, but it’s probably a toss up between the time when she completed ‘the Golden Slam’ by winning all the major matches on the circuit and an Olympic gold, all in the same year. But honestly, that slightly awkward (but equally amazing) ‘dance’ with men’s single champion Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon champions ball this year is a strong contender too.
What we should learn from her: Be fierce and fashionable and never apologise for it. Serena has gained world domination through a formidable combination of determination, sporting prowess and enviable style. Not convinced? Think back to 2002 when she won the US Open in a sleek black puma one-piece playsuit. Goals.
Born without a functioning left hand after her arm became entangled in the umbilical cord in the womb, nothing has stopped Sarah since. A woman of many talents, Sarah started out as a competitive swimmer but after an ear infection interfered with her training, she decided to give cycling a go instead. And it’s just as well, because she is now the proud owner of no less than 11 Paralympic gold medals and has won medals at World Cup level with the able bodied cycling squad too. She’s also a mother, a Dame and a motivational speaker. I.E. Totally awesome.
Greatest moment: Equaling Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts’ record of 11 paralympic gold medals.
What we should learn from her: You can do anything if you try hard enough.
Multi-event althetics champion and poster girl for the London 2012 Olympic games, this Sheffield born star is a massive name in the world of sport. After winning a gold medal in London (and over coming a fair few stereotypes in the process) Jessica became one of the most influencial ambassadors for women’s sport. Not bad for somebody who only started running at the age of 10, winning a pair of trainers in her first competition. Since the Olympics, Jess has tied the knot and given birth to her first son – and she’s already back on track to compete in Beijing in 2016. No pressure.
Greatest moments: Winning Olympic gold in front of a home crowd in London, Jess described crossing the finish line as ‘a dream come true.’ Which, well, makes sense.
What we should learn from her: Keep cool under pressure: Jessica’s face was on every billboard within sight during the Olympics, as sports types predicted the gold medal would be hers before she’d even qualified to compete. Not that any of this phased her, mind.
The current England women’s cricket team captain, Charlotte is the face of the 2015 Ashes tour. In the nine years that she’s captained the team she’s smashed a frankly ridiculous amount of records, such as being the only female cricketer to score 2,000 runs in T20 Internationals, and becoming the youngest cricketer to play for England at just 16. She’s also the proud owner of a CBE. Obvs.
Greatest moments: Winning the ashes a whopping five (five) times and maintaining her England captaincy since 2006. Phew.
What we should learn from her: Don’t let anyone get you down. When Lottie started playing cricket at 11 years old, she was put on the boy’s team and encountered nonstop negativity in the male dominated sport. But she believed in herself and, well, her CV speaks for itself.
Let’s be honest, it’s been a while since a British woman made the headlines in the world of tennis (after all, we’ve got those Williams sisters to beat!). But fear no longer, because Heather Watson is starting to grow into the trainers of expectation that the British public fitted her with back in 2012. She’s the British number one and ranked 52nd in the world – and she’s only just got started.
Greatest moment: Giving Serena Williams a run for her money at this year’s Wimbledon, Heather won a set off her competitor, and even had the chance to serve for the match. (That’s a big deal.)
What we should learn from her: Don’t be intimidated: Serena Williams whacking a tennis ball in your direction would scare the best of us, but not Watson.
English international footballer and all round amazing human being, Laura has over 50 caps for the England team since her debut in 2003. She was a vital part of the recent 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, in which the team finished a record third overall. Now playing for FA WSL club Notts County, Laura has previously kicked balls for Birmingham City, Arsenal, Leeds Carnegie and Chelsea.
Greatest moment: Not really a moment, more of a legacy – the work Laura has done for women’s football will ensure the sport will only continue to grow in popularity year on year. And it’s about time.
What we should learn from her: Everyone makes mistakes: Laura scored a heart breaking own goal in England’s semi-final match during the World Cup which saw them lose the game. However, she’s quickly bounced back and is now stronger than ever. Yes!
She’s the star of wheelchair tennis, proud holder of an MBE and a Wimbledon champion, making Jordanne Whiley the veritable definition of amazing. She won her first National championship at the age of 14 – the youngest Brit ever to do so. The sports star suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta (as does her father, Keith, who was also a Paralympian and won a bronze medal in New York), but she’s never let that hold her back. Without a doubt, Jordanne is one of the best tennis players we’ve ever had, winning all four grand slams this year – pretty incredible considering that doctors once told her she would never play sport.
Greatest moment: Winning the wheelchair doubles title at Wimbledon 2015. Full stop.
What we should learn from her: Be inspired: Jordanne believes you can find inspiration in everyone : “A lot of young people look up to the likes of Beyoncé or Paris Hilton, and just want to be skinny and look good. But there are all sorts of people you can look up to in life.” Hear hear!
Finally a woman is winning as much recognition for her diving as Tom Daly. Rebecca is a relatively new name in the adrenaline-fuelled watersport. But even though she’s been competing for a while, she has only just started to find her form. Watch this space.
Greatest moment: Becoming the first British female diver to win a medal at the World Championships, wowsers.
What we should learn from her: Team work: Rebecca competes in the syncronised diving and attributes all of her success to the importance of working together.
An English professional golfer, Charley shining through in the male dominated sport. Already tipped as having the same wow factor as Rory McIlroy, she’s even being described as the best teenage golfer in Britian. And if that doesn’t convince you, this will: she finished number one in the whole of Europe last year.
Greatest moments: More of a throwback than the others, but Charley played a Championship when she was just nine years old and only 4ft 7in tall. In fact, she was so small, she got blown over by the wind whilst standing on the 11th tee. Of course, she got straight back up and went on to win the event.
What we should learn from her: Aim high: Charley is open about her dream to be the best player in the world at age 21.
Her infectious enthusiasm is as glaringly obvious as Francesca’s amazing talent for swimming. One of the world’s best sprint swimmers, she’s not afraid of getting what she wants, and working hard for it, too. Fran was just 16 when she won her first major senior medal and it only took her until she was 19 to win her first World Championship medal too. Hard to believe that when she first started swimming, she hated it and said putting her face in the water was similar to having a nightmare!
Greatest moment: Bouncing back from the disappointment of missing out on medals at London 2012, to become the only swimmer to win a medal at the Barcelona world championships.
What we should learn from her: Keep smiling until your mouth hurts. Fran insists that everyday she has fun, even when she loses a race.