MN Daily Salute: Black Female Athletes
In honor of Black History Month, MadameNoire is sending a daily salute to the African American women who inspire us every day of the year. Today we’re recognizing the black women athletes who make us proud everywhere from the tennis courts to the track, the balance beams, and the swimming pool.
Venus and Serena Williams
Venus and Serena Williams took the tennis world by storm when the two brown girls from Compton with braid and beads showed up on the courts and dominated their opponents. Venus has been ranked World No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association on three separate occasions, and when she was named so in 2002 for the first time, she became the first African American woman to achieve be given then title during the Open Era. Venus is also a four-time Olympic gold medalist and as of February 2013, is ranked number 22 in the world in singles.
Like her big sister, Serena has also ranked up a number of World No. 1 rankings — five to be exact since July 2002. Serena is the only female player to have won over $40 million in prize money and she is regardedas one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 30 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic Gold medals.
Last year, Gabby Douglas captivated Americans during the Summer Olympics in London. She earned the attention of Olympic judges as well, winning the gold medal in the individual all-around,. With this feat, she became the first African-American woman, as well as the first woman of color of any nationality, to win the event at just 16 years old.
Allyson Felix is a track and field sprint athlete who won Olympic gold, two Olympic silver medals, and three world championship golds in the 2012 summer Olympics in the 200 meter race. In the 100 meter and 400 meter races at the summer games, Felix won three Olympic gold medals as a member of the United States’ women’s relay teams — two at 4×400 meters and one as part of the world-record 4×100 meter team. The three gold medals Felix took home at the 2012 Summer Olympics are the most a female track athlete has won since 1988, and the time she clocked as part of the 4 x 400 was the 3rd fastest time in Olympic history.
Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross won the 4×400 meters relay at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and the 2012 Olympic games in London. In 2008, the Kingston, Jamaica, native who ended her high school career with a 4.0 grade point average, also won the individual bronze medal for the 400m, and the following year, she became World Champion, winning a gold medal in the 400 meter race at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin.
American sprinter Carmelita Jeter is the second fastest woman of all time and the current IAAF World Champion in the 100 meter dash. Jeter’s stellar winnings began in 2007 when she won the 100 meter bronze at the World Championships in Athletics, and gold at the World Athletics Final. After that, Jeter won a second gold at the World Athletics Final and the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix following that. This feat made her the second fastest woman ever in the 100 meter, beating Marion Jones’s record and bringing her closer to Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record. In the Summer 2012 Olympics, Jeter won the women’s 100-meter title and she currently holds three of the top ten times ever run.
Sloane Stephens is a professional tennis player who, as of February 18, 2013, is ranked world no. 16 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) at just 19 years old. Though Stephens has yet to make a WTA Tour singles final, having reached four semifinals, she has made a semifinal appearance at the 2013 Australian Open. It was in this game that she had an amazing win against her mentor, Serena Williams, becoming the only American younger than Williams to beat her.
Taylor Townsend is a professional tennis player and Australian Open 2012 Girls Junior Champion. The 16-year-old is the first American to hold the No. 1 year-end world ranking for junior girls since Gretchen Rush in 1982, and is considered by most in the tennis world to be the second coming of Serena Williams and a child prodigy in the sport.
Lia Neal is an American competitive swimmer who made her Olympic debut at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and left with a bronze medal in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay. The 17-year-old New Yorker qualified for the U.S. Olympic team by finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 54.33 seconds during trials in Omaha, NE. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Neal won the bronze medal in the 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay with Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy and Allison Schmitt. As the third leg, Neal had a split time of 53.65 seconds, and the U.S. team finished with a total time of 3:34.24, which set an American record.
Lori “Lolo” Jones is an American track and field, and now bobsled athlete, who holds indoor national titles in the 60 meter hurdles for 2007, 2008, and 2009, and gold medals at the World Indoor Championship in 2008 and 2010. Jones won silver at the 2008 World Athletics Final and is the American record holder in the 60 meter hurdles with a time of 7.72. As a brakeman on the U.S. national bobsled team, she won a gold medal in the mixed team event at the 2013 World Championships.
Dominique Dawes is a retired 10-year member of the U.S. national gymnastics team, a three-time Olympian, a World Championships silver medalist, a member of the gold-medal winning “Magnificent Seven” at the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 1994 U.S. all-around senior National Champion. Dawes achieved a number of first during her career. She was the first African American woman to win an individual Olympic medal in artistic gymnastics, and the first black person of any nationality or gender to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. She is also one of only three female American gymnasts to compete in three Olympics and is the first female gymnast to be a part of three Olympic medal winning teams since Lyudmila Turischeva won gold in Mexico City (1968), Munich (1972), and Montreal (1976). Only one other gymnast has accomplished this feat since Dawes.