5 Female Athletes Calling Out Sexism in Sports

Tennis great Serena Williams is no stranger to sexism. She repeatedly faces criticism about her athleticism, body and demeanor. And Williams recently called out an umpire at the U.S. Open for unfair treatment.

Here are a few of the many female athletes like Williams who’ve stood up for gender equality.

1. Serena Williams

When Serena Williams recently received a range of code violations during the U.S. Open, she lost her cool at the umpire. Even so, she later congratulated her winning opponent Naomi Osaka in a great show of sportsmanship.

According to Williams and a number of tennis officials, this loss wouldn’t have happened if she was a man.

“I’ve sat courtside watching the men ranting at umpires and they haven’t been given a violation,” tennis presenter Sue Barker says to BBC.

As tennis great Billie Jean King explained on the Morning Call:

Women are taught to be perfect. We aren’t perfect, of course, and so we shouldn’t be held to that standard. We have a voice. We have emotions. When we react adversely to a heated professional situation, far too often, we’re labeled hysterical. That must stop. Tennis is a game, but for Williams and Osaka, it’s also their job, their life’s work. Yes, Williams was heated during the match, because she felt Ramos wasn’t just penalizing her, but also attacking her character and professionalism. Her true leadership and character were revealed after the match, in the trophy presentation, when she shifted the spotlight to Osaka. She didn’t have to, but she did.

2. USA Baseball Women’s National Team

In a country where women’s college and professional baseball opportunities are sparse, members of the national team are pioneers. They speak up against the double standard that girls play softball and boys play baseball. And these incredible athletes are determined to prove that female baseball players are not anomalies.

Two-time gold medalist Malaika Underwood, for one, wants girls to realize that young players like Mo’Ne Davis — a pitcher who became the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series in 2014 — are part of a long history of female baseball players.

Underwood told SB Nation:

Right now it just doesn’t seem like there are a lot of options available as a woman in the sport. Not because we’re not good enough, but because of discrimination. Sometimes it does feel like two steps forward and two steps back, but at least we’re facing the right direction. My daughter will grow up knowing that I played sports, while I grew up knowing my mom didn’t have the opportunity to play sports. Setting a good example for her in terms of following your dreams and doing the things you love, that’s a motivator for me.

3. Aly Raisman


Multiple-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is an outspoken advocate for sexual assault survivors. She was one of the hundreds of brave women to testify against former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar for sexual abuse.

Raisman repeatedly stressed that the problem wasn’t just Nassar, and she called out USA Gymnastics and other adults who may have had their suspicions, but failed to speak out.

The 24-year-old has since started a program to teach coaches and parents to spot signs of sexual abuse, and she’s even written a book.

“I felt when I was younger that I was going to go to the Olympics,” Raisman tells ESPN. “And now I feel that I’m going to help fix this.”

4. Team USA Women’s Hockey

Last year, the national women’s hockey team threatened to boycott the national championship when they discovered that the men’s team was getting paid drastically more.

The women’s team ended up getting a raise and the same benefits that the men received. And they won their first gold medal in more than two decades at the Olympics in South Korea.

5. Susie Wolff

Car racing is famously male-dominated, so former Williams Formula One test driver Wolff started Dare to Be Different to encourage more women and girls to try motor sports. Her school programs reached more than 35,000 girls last year.

Wolff tells Forbes:

The proudest thing for me is the fact that every little girl who manages to get to one of our events is empowered. It empowers her to believe that she can do more than she perhaps ever thought. It empowers her to believe that this whole engineering and motorsport thing isn’t just for boys. That’s something that I hope every little girl that we touch will take on to later in life.

Photo Credit: PROEdwin Martinez/Flickr

46 comments

Lisa M
Lisa M21 days ago

Thanks.

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Lisa M
Lisa M21 days ago

Thanks.

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Leo C
Leo C21 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

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michela c
michela c21 days ago

Thanks

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Amanda M
Amanda M22 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M22 days ago

noted

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Janis K
Janis K22 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Marge F
Marge F22 days ago

Thank you for posting this informative article.

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Brandy S
Brandy S22 days ago

Thank you for the post.

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Callie R
Callie R22 days ago

Regardless of what you think about a persons behavior...the sexism and discrimination are certainly there and need to be spoken of znd done away with.

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