From the WNBA to Track and Field — Here Are 36 Black Female Athletes You Need to Know
Althea Gibson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith Joyner, Laila Ali, Wilma Rudolph, and Candace Parker — these are just a few of the Black women who have forever changed sports. These women paved the way for current and future athletes while disrupting the world of sports for the better. Today, Black women are still breaking down barriers in their respective sports and in society.
Ahead are just a handful of Black women doing amazing things in sports and this list will continue to grow. The 36 women will inspire you to dream bigger and work harder — not just for yourself, but for all the Black and brown girls who will come after you.
She needs zero introduction and her stat sheet speaks for itself. Serena Williams has 23 Grand Slam wins (one shy of tying Margaret Court's record) and long story short: she's the GOAT.
Claressa Shields is a two-time Olympian, the first American woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics, and the first American to win gold medals back to back at the Olympics. In January 2020, she became the fastest fighter to win world titles in three weight divisions.
Even if you've never stepped foot on a track, Allyson Felix is a household name. She competed in her first Olympics at 18 years old, placing second in the 200 meters. Since then, Allyson has won numerous US, World, and Olympic championships. Fun fact: she's the most decorated woman in US track and field history with a total of nine Olympic medals.
Simone Manuel is a four-time Olympic medalist and the first Black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming. Need we say more? You'll definitely want to keep an eye on her at the 2020 Olympics.
Venus Williams has been dominating the world of tennis (alongside her sister Serena) since she turned professional in 1994.
Don't forget her name. At just 19 years old, Sydney McLaughlin has broken records, set world records, and placed fifth at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 400 meter hurdles. Keep your eye on her as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach.
Simone Biles is the greatest gymnast ever, and she's only getting better. She's won gold at the Olympics, she's the first woman to win four world all-around titles, and she's the most decorated US female gymnasts with 25 world and Olympic medals total — and those aren't even all of her accomplishments. She most recently completed a vault no woman has ever done before, and we're just anxiously awaiting her next competition.
Naomi Osaka won her second consecutive Grand Slam title at the 2019 Australian Open. She's also the first Asian tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
Elizabeth "Liz" Cambage
Liz Cambage is an Australian professional basketball player who currently plays in the WNBA for the Las Vegas Aces. When she isn't on the court, you can find her DJing parties all over the world. She's also a mental health advocate.
Crystal Dunn is an American soccer player who was part of the US Women's National Team that dominated, and won, the World Cup in 2019. She is a force on the field and can play any position, which makes her one of the most valuable players for Team USA.
Dalilah Muhammad is an Olympic gold medalist who specializes in the 400m hurdles and 100m hurdles. In 2019, she broke the 16-year-old 400m hurdle world record with a time of 52.20 seconds.
Ibtihaj Muhammad is a saber fencer and the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the US at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Fun fact: she also has a Barbie modeled after her.
Cori "Coco" Gauff
Coco Gauff is a 15-year-old tennis player from Florida and she became an overnight sensation after defeating Venus Williams during the first round at the All England Club. She also became the youngest player to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
The former University of Connecticut basketball star Gabby Williams was the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft and plays for the Chicago Sky.
Jazmyn Jackson is a member of the USA softball team and has multiple medals from the World Cup of Softball, Pan American Championship, and USA Softball International Cup.
Blake Bolden is an American ice hockey player, and she was the first Black woman to compete in the National Women's Hockey League.
"Out here making it happen," is what Shasta Averyhardt's Twitter bio says. And yes, she is. When she qualified in 2010 for the 2011 LPGA Tour, Shasta was the first Black golfer on the tour since LaRee Sugg in 2001.
Sydney Leroux is a badass professional soccer player for the US Women's National Team and has a gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics to prove it.
Mallory Pugh is taking the world of soccer by storm, with most considering her to be one of the greatest players of the game. She was part of the 2019 USWNT, and we're hoping to see her at the 2020 Olympics!
Ajeé Wilson specializes in the 800 meters and currently holds the US record with a time of 1:55:61 (yes, that's one minute and fifty-five seconds!). On Feb. 9, 2019 she set the indoor 800 meter American record at the Millrose Games with a time of 1:58:60.
Sloane Stephens is another name you need to know. She's currently the No. 3 ranked tennis player in the world and was the fourth Black woman to win a Grand Slam single title at the US Open tennis tournament in 2017.
Nastasya Generalova is a rhythmic gymnast for Team USA, and she's ready to secure her ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nzingha Prescod is a two-time Olympic foil fencer and the first Black women to ever win an individual medal at the senior world championships.
At just 18 years old, Vashti Cunningham won the world high jump title in 2016. Yup, she's that good. In 2016, she became youngest track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics since 1980. She made her first Olympic team in 2016 and is looking to make the US team again in 2020.
Her name is Queen for a reason. She competed in the 400 meter hurdles at the 2008 Summer Olympics and now she has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020.
If her last name sounds familiar to you, you're on to something. Cheyenne Woods is Tiger Woods's niece, but trust us, she's got game of her own. Her goal: "To make it easier for Black women to follow her path to the tee," CNN reported. She's the sixth Black woman to earn a LPGA Tour card.
Brittney Reese is a long jumper, 2012 Olympic gold medalist, three-time Olympian, seven-time world champion, and holds the indoor world record in the event.
You already know Serena and Venus, but Taylor Townsend should definitely be on your radar when it comes to the world of tennis. She's constantly improving and moving up in the ranks, so keep your eyes on her!
If you think you have skills, wait until you see Nneka Ogwumike play basketball. She's so good, she was drafted No. 1 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks in the 2012 WNBA draft.
Also known as the 400-meter diva, Natasha Hastings is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 4x400 meter relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Tori Franklin is a triple jumper who holds both the indoor and outdoor American records in the event.
English Gardner won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 4x100 meter relay, and is one of the fastest women in the world. She's just returned from a knee injury, and you'll definitely want to keep your eyes on her ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian is an Olympic bobsled pilot who has represented both the US and Jamaica. She competed for the US at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and decided to compete for Jamaica in 2015 to increase diversity in the sport. 2018 was the first year Jamaica sent an all-women's bobsled team to the Olympics.
University of Florida alum Kelsey Stewart is a two-time softball national champion and now plays for Team USA.
Lolo Jones is a three-time Olympian, three-time world champion, and holds the American record in the indoor 60 meter hurdles event. In 2014, Lolo earned a spot on the US bobsled team.