Historically, black women in sports faced double discrimination due to their gender and race. A number of African American female athletes have emerged as champions in their particular sports over the years, from track and field and tennis to figure skating and basketball. The struggles and hard-won glory of pioneers such as Alice Coachman, Althea Gibson, Wilma Rudolph and Lynette Woodard helped pave the way for later generations of sports prodigies. So here is a list of 6 absolutely amazing black female athletes of today!
1) Serena Williams
Serena Williams is an American tennis player who revolutionised women’s tennis with her powerful style of play and who won more Grand Slam singles titles than any other woman or man during the open era. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Serena won gold medals in the doubles event. After several years of inconsistent play, Serena asserted herself in 2002 and won the French Open, the U.S. Open, and Wimbledon. On her journey towards becoming one of the greatest athletes the world has ever seen, Serena Williams helped to show a new generation of young Black sportswomen exactly what was possible.
2) Simone Biles
Simone is a gymnast who is considered one of the sport’s greatest athletes. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, she became the first female U.S. gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Games, and she was the first gymnast to win three consecutive world all-around titles 3 years in a row. Simone became interested in gymnastics at age six during a day-care field trip to Bannon’s Gymnastix, and she remained there for 11 years training tirelessly everyday from 8:00am to 7:00pm every night. What set Biles apart was her consistency, her exuberant personality, and the high degree of difficulty she incorporated into her routines. Biles is widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time. In the individual all-around category, she hasn’t lost a competition since 2013.
3) Dina Asher Smith
Aged 24, London-born Dina Asher-Smith is the fastest woman in British history and has been listed in the Powerlist as one of the UK’s most influential people of African/African Caribbean descent. Dina became the first British woman to win a major global sprint title as she stormed to victory in 200m at the World Championships. The Olympian who won silver in the 100m, was the outstanding favourite and outclassed the field to take gold status in a British record of 21.88 seconds.
4) Ramla Ali
Ramla started boxing as a teenager. She was bullied at school for being overweight and wanted to change the way she looked. One day she discovered a Boxersice class in her local leisure centre in East Ham adopted an early love of the sport before she joined a local boxing gym and eventually started competing. The competitions got bigger as she went on to win the 2015 Novice National Championships, the 2016 England Boxing Elite National Championships, the Great British Elite Championships, and fighting for Somalia since 2017. She came to the UK as a refugee fleeing war, but she is also a decorated boxer who has yet to lose a fight in her young professional career. She is the first fighter to compete for Somalia and she has successfully launched her own charity. She’s already committed to giving 25 per cent of her first year’s take as a pro to Black Lives Matter charities, and highlights one of her main priorities as being the Sisters Club, which she launched in 2018 to give self-defence lessons to women.
5) Surya Bonaly
Surya Bonaly was a former French competitive figure skater with some serious Black Girl Magic. She is a three-time World silver medalist from 1993–1995, a five-time European champion in 1991–1995, the 1991 World Junior Champion, and a nine-time French national champion from 1989–1997. Surya is the only Olympic figure skater to land a backflip on only one blade. She performed it at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. It was the last time a black woman was a serious contender for an Olympic medal in figure skating. At the 1998 winter Olympics while having a score that was too low to win she decided to make history by executing a banned jump, a backwards somersault landing on one foot, previously executed by only three men who landed on both feet yet Surya did the somersault landing on one foot. The move is now called ‘The Bonaly’.
6) Sheryl Swoopes
Sheryl Swoopes, born in Texas in 1971, is a WNBA legend and three-time Olympic champion.
She’s a three-time WNBA MVP and was the first player to be signed in the WNBA. She dominated the courts from then on, winning four straight WNBA titles with the Houston Comets. In 1995, Nike named a shoe after her, and at that time the only other athlete who had their own signature shoe was Michael Jordan. To this day, she still holds the record for points scored in an NCAA championships basketball game. Sheryl also won gold medals at three Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. No other player, male or female, has scored more than the 47 points she did in 1993 for Texas Tech. In 2019, she co-founded a non-profit organisation called Back to Our Roots, which aims to empower and educate young people through sport.