14 Record-Breaking Women's Sports Moments That Were Honestly Fashion Moments Too
Perhaps the best thing we can do to celebrate Women's History Month is to look back on the moments when they broke barriers. In the sports camp, there is a lot to reminisce about. We have marveled over so many of Serena Williams's championship tennis outfits by the likes of Off-White and counted her tremendously cool lineup of sneakers, but there are so many more women athletes who set records in outfits they may not have known would become iconic.
Take Billie Jean King, for example, who beat Bobby Riggs in a Ted Tinling crafted dress she wasn't even supposed to wear! (Yup, it was a back-up that had rhinestones stitched on quickly the morning of the match.) Then there's soccer player Brandi Chastain's black Nike sports bra, which she revealed when she took off her shirt to swing her jersey in triumphant victory — it's now framed and hanging up in her house. And Flo-Jo's one-legged jumpsuits were iconic enough to be recreated by Beyoncé for Halloween.
Ahead, find more stories that aren't so much about glitz and glam, but came to be respected and renowned for the clothes all the same.
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King famously beat Bobby Riggs in their $100,000 winner-take-all "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, which took place September 20, 1973. King's designer for the match, legendary British tennis couturier Ted Tinling, brought along a shimmering dress that King looked great in, but she felt it was too scratchy. That's how the back-up option was introduced: this nylon dress that paid homage to the Virginia Slims Women's Tennis Tour. The morning of the match, Tingling searched high and low for rhinestones to stitch onto it, according to his memoir. "I would never have worn pink," Billie Jean King famously said of the historical moment.
In 2004, Bahraini olympic athlete Roqaya Al-Ghasara was the first woman to run in a headscarf during the 100 meter sprint, but she went on to compete in 2006 and 2008, too. Here, she leads the Olympic delegation of Bahrain at the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games in her beautiful tailor made outfit with ornate trim and gold sequins.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams
At the 2010 French Open, sisters Venus and Serena Williams took the winners' cup when they defeated Czech Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia. They coordinated in tennis dresses, Serena in sky blue Nike and Venus in her own line, EleVen, which came complete with a matching visor.
US Snowboarder Chloe Kim was only 17 when she won the halfpipe gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea with her 98.25 score. She wore a luxurious gray furry neck wrap on that day, later swapping it out for an oatmeal colored USA knit beanie.
Florence Griffith Joyner
"Flo Jo," as she's known, accepted three medals at the 1988 olympics. She wore electrifying one-legged jumpsuits during the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana — and Beyoncé even recreated her magenta look for Halloween in 2018.
Some would count a black Nike sports bra as an iconic piece of clothing after Chastain kicked the winning penalty shot during the 1999 Women's World Cup against China and took off her jersey, twirling it in the air in triumph. The photo would go on to cover Jane Gottesman's book Game Face: What Does a Female Athlete Look Like? and the sports bra is now framed in Chastain's home. (She was even offered $500,000 for it shortly after the match.)
Gibson wore white polos throughout her career as a tennis champion, oftentimes even covering them with cardigans during her matches. In 1956, she became the first Black athlete to win a Grand Slam title and earn back-to-back titles at Wimbledon and the US Championships. P.S. she was a pro golfer too.
Can you believe that it was as recent as 1967 that Katherine Switzer had to fight for a spot in the Boston marathon? She was famously banned from the race that year, all because she's a woman, and continued to run the race after an official tried to tackle her. She wore a gray sweatsuit with her Adidas sneakers, letting us all know (as if we needed a reminder), sweatsuits mean business.
Yes, she was famous for her hairstyle, but American figured skater Dorothy Hamill — who was the 1976 Olympic champion and World champion in ladies' singles — also stuck to a signature outfit. The necklines of her skating dresses were almost always embroidered with crystals to match the cuffs on her sleeves.
Look back at almost any photo of Danica Patrick competing, and you'll find her in her Ray-Bans. Here she was in the classic sunglasses waiting to qualify for the IndyCar Series. She'd then go on to become the first and only woman to win an IndyCar series race during the Indy Japan 300.
Kerri Strug famously nailed the landing during her second vault at the 1996 Olympic games on one foot, because of an injury that occurred during her first vault. There she was at the World Gold Gymnastics press tour conference, being held by her team in the satin USA coordinates, which were made by Champion.
Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie made WNBA history with her 2002 dunk for the Los Angeles Sparks team. She celebrated in jean shorts and her team t-shirt — and yes, that is an iconic Tiffany & Co. chainlink charm bracelet.
Nadia Comăneci, the first Olympic gymnast to score a perfect 10, didn't just wear one medal during the 1976 Olympic games, but this one allowed her to show off her Romania sports jacket that matched the same Adidas crafted bodysuit she wore for that iconic moment, along with the ribbon in her hair. She received a total of six more perfect 10s during events leading up to her three gold medals that year.
Who can forget Tara Lipinski's cobalt blue embellished figure skating outfit, with intricate floral stitching and mesh sleeves stitched with rhinestones? She teamed it up with a blue scrunchie in the same shade for the 1998 Olympic winter games in Nagano, Japan, where she won gold and became the youngest gold medalist in women's figure skating.