Female Athletes That Broke Down Barriers And Changed History

Female Athletes That Broke Down Barriers And Changed History

The sporting world, once male dominated, is now overrun by powerful women from all over the globe who are breaking boundaries and changing history. 

Whilst changes are happening, women still face many obstacles when it comes to partaking in sport, and oftentimes we can feel boxed in by society's archaic standard of what a woman can and can't do.

Despite this, it’s undeniable that changes are happening. There are so many women who are pioneers within the sports industry today. Here at Bamae we’ve put together a list of just some of the women who have been leading change and who have inspired the masses and shown them that anything is possible.

Ellen White

Serena Williams

In a recent win for us Brits, Ellen White has become England’s top female scorer in women’s football, recently beating Latvia 20-0 in a game, leaving her goal record at 48. White has been working tirelessly in football for many years, and now she stands in the hall of fame amongst some of the top scorers, next to Bobby Charlton’s 49 goals and Wayne Rooney’s 53. In a video interview with BBC, Ellen states:

“Women’s football has grown massively – there’s definitely more exposure. You can now turn on the TV and watch a women’s game. I hope it’ll continue to grow and more players can come into our league.”

Serena Williams 

Serena Williams has revolutionised the world of tennis forever. Now known as a household name, it wasn’t always easy for her. Growing up in Compton, she overcame the sociocultural barriers that she faced growing up in poverty. She’s also dealt with her fair share of media criticism, misogyny and racism. 

Despite these unjust adversities, she’s went on to win more grand slam titles than any other tennis player. In a predominantly white male sport, she has broken down prejudice in the tennis world and has created a new legacy. She is regarded by some as the greatest female tennis player of all time.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles, aged 23, has been nominated as Times 100 most influential people of 2021. In the 2016 Olympics, aged 17, she became the first female US athlete to win four gold medals, and she was the first gymnast to win her title 3 years in a row (2013-2015). 

She is considered one of the greatest athletes of her time because of her sheer determination and success at such a young age, as well as the complexity of her routines.

Amna Al Haddad

Amna was born in Saudi Arabia, and fell into weightlifting during her weight loss journey. In the western world, weightlifting is still a male dominated sport, so for Amna, who was raised in a society where women are unable to do many things, she faced even more controversy. 

Especially as a Muslim woman, she was breaking so many stereotypes by chasing her dreams. However, she pushed past the criticism and didn’t let that stop her from competing. She was allowed to wear a unitard whilst competing so she didn’t have to compromise her faith whilst competing. She went on to take part in the 2016 Olympics. 

“No matter what the challenges are, never walk away from your dreams. The more you persist, the closer you are going to get to your goals. When things get tough, just get tougher.”

Ashley Fiolek 

When she was just a young girl, her family found out that Ashley was deaf. Whilst this was difficult for the family to process, her family used to regularly go out together and take their motorbikes as a way of bonding. When she was only 3, she was given a peewee motorbike. As she got older, she dreamed of being a motocross racer, however because of her deafness many people told her it wasn’t possible. 

Despite the odds, Ashley went on to become one of the most legendary motor racers today. She’s since won four national titles which is an incredible achievement. Despite her deafness, she was determined to make her dream a reality. She was able to feel the vibrations of the bike and use her senses to guide her.

Ibtihaj Muhammad 

Ibtihaj is a part of the sabre fencing and USA fencing team. She is the first women to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab, and receive a gold medal whilst wearing one!

This is a huge milestone for representation as well as a win for the Muslim world. The sporting world can sometimes feel restrictive and unwelcoming to those who wear a hijab because of uniform rules, prejudice and sexism that Muslim women are inundated with. However, I am sure that Ibtihaj has inspired many Muslim women around the world that they don’t need to compromise between their faith and dreams, rather, both are possible if we step outside this box that society has put us in.

Wilma Rudolph 

Wilma was a young girl when she contracted polio, and as a result her leg became paralysed. Doctors told her she’d never walk again. However, her mother continued to tell her otherwise and would take her to the city for treatment. 

As she got older, Wilma would practice walking, and slowly she became stronger. At the age of 9, she was able to walk without a brace. She fell in love with running, and became the fastest woman in the world. She went on to run in the 1960 Olympics and broke three world records. 

“Nobody wins all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”

Yusra Mardini 

Yusra used to enjoy swimming at her local pool in Syria every day. Her father, also a swimmer, trained her and her sister to be strong swimmers. However, the war in Syria left the country a dangerous place for civilians, and things took a turn when her pool was hit by a bomb. Soon after, a bomb hit her house.

Afraid and with nowhere to hide or feel safe, her family decided to flee the country on a rubber dinghy, an incredibly dangerous and desperate journey of survival. 

Whilst on the journey, the motor broke down on the boat and panic began to set in. She didn’t want to die at sea. With her desperation, she jumped out of the boat and decided to push the boat in the water. Three gruelling hours later, after swimming and kicking and pushing, they reached the shore. 

Her determination and grit are truly inspiring. She went on to be part of the first refugee team to compete in the 2016 Olympics. As well as being a swimmer, she is also the youngest ever ambassador for the United Nations refugee agency, and campaigns to help other Syrian refugees.



These are only a handful of the female athletes that are changing the world as we speak. They have inspired the masses and have taught females everywhere that no matter what, your dreams are never too big, no matter where you come from.

In the words of Beyonce, 

who run the world? GIRLS!”