A man’s world; Unconcealed shock, rude once overs, objectification and outright hypersexualization, although gender lines are blurring in male-dominated fields, the fight for recognition and better pay still has more than a few hurdles to jump with women, most especially the black woman athletes having to fight twice as hard as her male counterpart.
However, millennial women in the 21st century are applaudably trashing belittling labels and rising up against the odds, making great strides in different fields of endeavor. Today we stand in ovation of not just two G.O.A.Ts in tennis – icons Venus and Serena Williams who paved way for others to follow, we zoom in on other black women raising their head up and waving their flag proudly.
1. Naomi Osaka
Ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association, the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion, Osaka is the reigning champion at the US Open.
From an “anonymous” athlete who got awestruck at the U.S. Open coming face to face with childhood hero, one of her biggest inspiration, Serena Williams, to shocking the world and emerging victorious against her idol, taking home a Grand Slam title at just 20 years old, becoming a world champ herself, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka deservedly lands on this list.
Osaka won her first two Grand Slam singles titles in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments at the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.
So not done! Just last week, Osaka lifted her third Grand Slam title and her second US Open title.
2. Simone Biles
Dubbed one of sports greatest athletes of all time, Olympic gymnast Biles with a combined total of 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, stands as the most decorated American gymnast in world championship history. The 23 year old is the world’s third most decorated gymnast, behind Belarus’ Vitaly Scherbo (33 medals) and Russia’s Larisa Latynina (32 medals).
At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the four foot eight star became the first female U.S. gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Games, she was the first gymnast to win three consecutive world all-around titles (2013–15).
Noted for her brilliant contribution towards gold-winning U.S. women’s artistic gymnastics team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, at the 2018 U.S. national championships, she became the first female gymnast in nearly 25 years to win all five events.
3. Gabby Douglas
From underdog whose awesome was threatened by naysayers to rising above it many thanks to her support system, Douglas accepted her exceptional talent in gymnastics to establishing herself world champion.
Gabby Douglas, American gymnast who became the first African American in Olympic history to win the individual all-around event at the 2012 Summer Games.
Douglas whose passion was discovered early had begun professional training right from age 6, two years later in 2004, she had won a state championship – Virginia State Gymnastics Champion.
At age 16, in 2012 London Summer Olympics, her high flying skills brought her well deserved recognition.
In 2016, the 5 foot 2 athlete became the 2016 AT&T American Cup all-around champion.
The 24 year old is the first Black gymnast in Olympic history to be the Individual All-Around Champion and the first U.S. gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.
4. Allyson Felix
In 2019, American track and field sprinter with a total of 13, Allyson Felix broke Usain Bolt’s record for the most-ever gold medals won at the world championships.
The 34 year old sealed her name in world history over and over again: 2012 Olympic champion, a 3-time World champion (2005–09), and 2-time Olympic silver medalist (2004–08). At 400 meters, she is the 2015 World champion, 2011 World silver medalist, 2016 Olympic silver medalist, and 2017 World bronze medalist.
Felix has won five additional Olympic gold medals as a member of the United States’ women’s relay teams and is the only female track and field athlete to ever win six Olympic gold medals, she is tied with Merlene Ottey as the most decorated female Olympian in track and field history, with a total of nine Olympic medals. Felix is also the most decorated athlete, male or female, in World Athletics Championships history with 18 career medals.
5. Laila Ali
Daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the 8 of 9 children, Laila wasn’t fazed by pressure, at just 23 years old, she became the first woman to headline a pay-per-view boxing event.
The former boxer whose career spanned from 1999- 2007 retired undefeated in 2007 with a 24-0 record, she held the WBC, WIBA, IWBF and IBA female super middleweight titles, and the IWBF light heavyweight title.
The 5 ft 10, 42 year old former athlete ever since retirement has built up a career as a television personality.