My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

5 Female Athletes Who Have Changed Sports History

Women’s sports and women’s achievements are often overlooked or dismissed. Some of the techniques and skills we know and love were created from these amazing female athletes.

These women have affected sports lines, rules, created new games, and amazed the world of sports.

Serena Williams – Tennis

Before Williams took to the court, very few black women competed in tennis. It was widely regarded as a rich white person’s sport. Williams was turned down by many franchises on her rise to the top. They all claimed her body type wasn’t fitting of a leading tennis player, so dismissed her clear skill. They compared her muscular body to pornographic pictures in a clear centuries-old narrative of racism.

This didn’t stop Williams though, as she was eventually seen for the talent she is. Serena Williams not only opened the door for other black girls to play tennis, but she also took the game by storm.

Williams has won the Grand Slam 23 times, which is the most out of any Open Era player, and the second-highest of all-time – beaten only by Margaret Court. Serena Williams holds the most major titles ever. This includes all past and present, men and women.

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias – Track, Field, Basketball, Baseball, And Golf

Very few people can play more than one sport successfully, and yet Zaharias dominated in 5. Her lead-up to glory came from childhood games of baseball. This was where she earned the name “babe”, as one season she managed to hit 5 home runs in just one game.

A life of sports was all Zaharias wanted, so as soon as she was able, the baseball fan joined in with basketball and track and field too. In the amateur leagues, Zaharias was an instant success, but we all know that amateurs mean nothing to the professionals.

Zaharias became her own team in the National AAU track meet, where she won the meet all by herself. She scored 30 points, while the second-place team only reached 22.

In 1932, Babe joined the Olympic team and that’s where the world got to see her real talent. She broke the world record high jump and should have won gold, but the judges dismissed her amazing skill as “foul form” leading her to a tainted silver.

Babe was breaking world records left, right, and center proving that women deserve a place among the greats. Even when Babe fell victim to 12 massive strokes, she was still able to win the US Women’s Open, adding more legend to her greatness.

Larisa Latynina – Gymnastics

From the 1950s to the 1960s, Latynina was synonymous with gymnastics. This amazing athlete was competing for the Soviet Union and was the best gymnast of her time. But her talents didn’t end there. She was also one of the best Olympians ever.

Until 2012, Latynina held the record for the most Olympic medals. Michael Phelps surpassed her after around 40 years of domination when he won his 19th Olympic medal. Apart from Phelps, no one has ever come close to earning as many medals as Latyninia. 

When she retired Latynina became a sought-after instructor. With her help, the USSR and now Russia have become the main country of power in gymnastics. Ever since Latynina entered into the sport, Russia and the USSR have dominated the sport.

Jackie Mitchell – Baseball

Jackie Mitchell was the first-ever woman to receive and sign a professional baseball contract. This event happened in 1931, and Mitchell joined the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Her rise to fame began when she played baseball in her backyard with her father. This might seem like a normal evening activity, but it all changed when neighbor and future hall of fame pitcher, Dazzy Vance, joined in with the family activity.

Mitchell already showed talent, and Vance did what most other players wouldn’t. He decided to train her – a girl. A lot of players were trained by retired stars, but none would add a girl to their team. Vance, however, saw the love and skill in this young woman’s eyes so taught her everything he knew – including his signature pitching technique called the drop ball.

When the Chattanooga Lookouts were up against the New York Yankees, Mitchell was able to shine. The starting pitcher gave up too many hits to the batters, so the team swapped him out for Mitchell. Her first batter was the legendary Babe Ruth. 

This interaction was one for the history books, as Babe Ruth was and still is one of the most amazing players to ever enter the game. He was unstoppable, until he met her. 

Mitchell was able to catch his swings, and she did so twice. Ruth asked for the ball to be checked for tampering, but the umpire declared that nothing was wrong. They continued the game, and Ruth struck out – failing his first game ever due to Mitchell’s pitching.

This story should have been heard across the world, but Mitchell was too good for her time. The commissioner destroyed Mitchell’s contract to save Ruth from embarrassment. 

Manon Rheaume – Hockey

Rheaume is another amazing woman who paved the way for women in sports. She became the first woman to play in the NHL games after a long battle to prove herself. It first started when Canada finally allowed women to play the nation’s sport. 

Rheaume helped the women’s national team win gold in the 1992 and 1994 IIHF tournaments. She then went on to win silver in the 1998 Olympics which gave her the courage to try out for the Tampa Bay Lightning team. In the tryouts, Rheaume proved herself by getting the 3rd highest saving percentage as a goaltender. The feat was so impressive that Rheaume became the first-ever woman to sign a professional contract in hockey.


All of these amazing women had to be outstanding in their field to even be considered to join the sports. But their amazing efforts have allowed other women to join in too, creating better games all around.