2015 was a great year for women in sports. From soccer to tennis, female athletes from every sport proved once again that they are a force to be reckoned with. Here are the moments that got us excited, gave us chills, and inspired us the most.
Serena Williams' entire year
The tennis superstar had our attention all year long. From chasing down an iPhone thief to the important stuff: landing her sixth Wimbledon title, a 21st major title, her second career Serena Slam, AND the third leg of the calendar Grand Slam after a sweet victory over Garbine Muguruza, the tennis phenomenon had quite the year. Though her 2015 season ultimately ended in heartbreak, canceling her bid to become the fourth woman to win the calendar Grand Slam, she rose to the top once again when she was named Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year today.
Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer
While most of us were still trying to perfect our ballerina buns, Misty Copeland was promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre in June, making her the first female African-American dancer to reach that status in the 75-year history of the company. "When I see a crowd or audience full of little brown faces, watching me and seeing the possibilities, I can't help but think, 'Wow, there's hope'—not only for ballet, but for the next generation to truly believe in their dreams and be empowered to reach for them," she wrote in an essay for the Huffington Post.
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The U.S. Women's National Team dominated the World Cup
Who runs the world? Obviously, the USWNT. The 23-player team dominated at the 2015 FIFA World Cup in July with a stellar 5-2 victory against Japan in the final, giving the U.S. its third world title and making us the only nation to ever achieve that feat. The champs were not only honored with their own parade in New York City—the first for a women's sports team—but they also received the Outstanding Team Award at the 2015 ESPY Awards.
Mo’ne Davis won big at the ESPYS
After becoming the first girl to earn a win and to pitch a shutout in Little League World Series history, 14-year-old Mo'ne Davis won the award for Best Breakthrough Athlete at the ESPYS. The young baseball star beat out New York Giants football player Odell Beckham Jr., Ohio State Buckeyes player Cardale Jones, and PGA golfer Jordan Spieth, proving to the world that (baseball) diamonds really are a girl's best friend.
Jen Welter became the first female coach in the NFL
Trailblazing Jen Welter inspired little girls everywhere who dreamed of being not only on the field, but also on the sidelines when she became the first female coach of any kind in the NFL in July. The Arizona Cardinals hired the former women's professional and semi-professional football player as an assistant coaching intern to work with inside linebackers. Speaking of her accomplishment Welter told CNN: "It's another dream that we as women, especially in sports, have been very limited in what we can dream. And now it's possible. And that's the best thing to know. Because though it wasn't a dream I had, now every little girl who loves football can grow up with that dream or one similar."
Simone Biles won the all-around world title...again
Reigning gymnastics champion, 18-year-old Simone Biles, made history in October when she claimed the all-around title at the world championships for the third time in a row. Although Biles stumbled in the early rounds, she was able to calm her nerves and pull it together for the win, making her the first woman to win three straight all-around world titles.
Last week she was named Female Olympic Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee—despite not being on an Olympic team yet. Key word: yet. She was too young to qualify for the 2012 games in London, but it's all but certain she will rock the world in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games next summer.
Holly Holm unseats Ronda Rousey
Underdog Holly Holm pulled off a stunning upset against the undefeated Ronda Rousey at the UFC 193 in November to become the new Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Not only that, but Holm remained a class act when many took to social media to criticize Rousey after her first loss. Holm told TMZ Sports that although she may be coming from a more “humble spot,” the fight wouldn’t have been possible without Rousey. “Ronda’s been a very dominant champ and she’s taken the sport to new levels. This fight wouldn’t’ve happened if she hadn’t accomplished what she’s accomplished, so I have a lot of respect for her,” she said.