âSerena Williams, Simone Biles, Coco-mania and more!
2019 was quite a year in sports, and Black women athletes shined throughout.
From the worlds of boxing, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, tennis, marathon running, and more Black Girl Magic was on full display.
âAs the year comes to a close, itâs time to look back at some of our brightest stars inspiring little girls around the world.
Sasha Banks is part of the new and more diverse face of World Wrestling Entertainment and sheâs arguably, one of their biggest stars.
She and partner Bayley won the inaugural WWE Womenâs Tag Team Championship in February during a six team Elimination Chamber match.
They would end up losing the title at Wrestlemania 35, but Banks was part of the first team ever to win the new womenâs title.
2019 was Taylor Townsendâs best year in terms of performance at the grand slam tournaments.
Highlighted by her run to the fourth round of the US Open which included an upset victory over Wimbledon champ and the #4 seed, Simona Halep. It was Townsendâs first victory over a top 10 player in her career.
Townsendâs serve and volley style is a throwback in todayâs power baseline game. She used that style to push eventual US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu, to three tough sets before bowing out.
âWhat made Townsendâs run into the round of 16 so impressive was she did it as a qualifier. She had to win three matches just to make the main draw at the Open. Two of those matches went three sets.
Townsendâs road from world #1 junior in 2012 to the 2019 US Open wasnât a smooth journey.
The United States Tennis Association had concerns that Townsendâs fitness was not where it needed to be to compete at the highest levels going forward, and in an unprecedented move, player-development executives including then-general manager Patrick McEnroe withheld funding for her to travel to major competitions like the U18 nationals and US Open.
âTownsendâs run at the 2019 US Open, a renewed confidence, and a sense of self has her poised to reach once imagined heights.
The goal scoring forward earned her second World Cup gold medal as a member of the 2019 US Women's National Team.
Press was one of four U.S. players to play in all seven World Cup games.
Her memorable moment came in the semifinals against England, USWNT star player Megan Rapinoe was out with an injury and Press stepped up and delivered. Scoring the first goal in a 2-1 victory for the U.S.
She lifted her arms and gazed to the heavens after the goal.
This was a bittersweet moment for Press who lost her mother Stacy earlier this year after the elder Press suffered a brain aneurysm.
Christen honored her mother by wearing Nike boots during the World Cup bearing the numbers 01.23.19âthe day Stacy passed.
Of her celebration, Press said, âI was thinking of my mom.â
The national team mainstay scored her 50th international goal this season, only the 12th player in USWNT history to do so.
Press finished 2019 with 5 goals and 12 assists. Her 12 assists lead the team, she was also the only member of the USWNT to appear in all 24 games in 2019.
Along with her teammates on the US Womenâs National Team, Press is also an advocate for gender equality. And as a âproud Black womanâ she has spoken out on issues of racism within the sport.
The 25-year-old Kenyan marathon runner won the Chicago Marathon in a new womenâs world record time of 2 hours 14 minutes 4 seconds. She shattered the previous mark by 81 seconds.
Kosgei also won the London Marathon earlier this year (April).
Kosgei started on an unreal pace in her first first five kilometers, running a time of 15:28, a pace of 4 minutes 58 seconds per mile. She ran an average of 5:06 per mile the rest of the way.
Her last mile of the grueling 26.2 trek was 5:10, her slowest of the day.
Think about that for a minute.
The last mile in a 26.2 mile race was 5 minutes and 10 seconds. Can the majority of us run one mile in 5:10?
That is incredible. But Kosgei believes she can go even faster.
ââI think 2:10 is possible for a lady,â she said. âI am focused on reducing my time again.â
CORI âCOCOâ GAUFF
At 15 years of age, she is the youngest player ranked in the WTA top 100. Sheâs #68.
She burst onto the scene at this yearâs Wimbledon Championships, defeating five-time champ Venus Williams en route to the 4th round.
The upset victory and increased interest in Gauff pushed tournament officials to move her third round match to Centre Court, an honor reserved for champions and top seeds.
All four of her matches were the most-watched matches on ESPN on their respective days.
She continued to play well throughout the summer and advanced to the third round of the US Open, where she lost to Naomi Osaka.
Gauff ended the year with her first WTA singles title at the Linz Open. She upset top seed Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals for her first top ten victory. She defeated JeÄ¼ena Ostapenko in the final to become the youngest WTA player to win a singles title since 2004.
âThe future of American womenâs tennis looks to be in great hands.
CLARESSA âT-REXâ SHIELDS
At just 24 years old she is already, arguably, the greatest female boxer in history. Let her tell it, and sheâs the âgreatest woman of all time.â
On April 13th, she became the undisputed female middleweight champion of the world defeating Christina Hammer by unanimous decision.
Shields unified the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO middleweight titles, along with The Ring magazine's inaugural middleweight belt, becoming one of only seven boxers in history, female or male, to hold all four major world titles in boxingâWBA, WBC, IBF and WBOâsimultaneously.
But sheâs done it faster than anyone ever, in just nine fights.
"There's not a woman in this world that can beat me if we put on a pair of gloves and we fight. I've accomplished so much," Shields, who also won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, said in an April interview.
"I'm just the undisputed champion -- I am great as I think I am and I've been able to prove it by taking on these big challenges and beating these girls who they say cannot be beaten."
âItâs pretty hard to argue with that.
Strange to say this but we have gone two calendar years without the âGOAT âwinning a tennis tournament.
Her last win was her 23rd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open when she was eight weeks pregnant with daughter Olympia.
Since then Williams had a near brush with death after the birth of her daughter due to complications from a pulmonary embolism
But Williams returned to the court in 2018 and in the seven grand slams sheâs played since returning, sheâs made the finals four times.
Thatâs a career for some of the best tennis players ever, itâs a reality the majority that play professional tennis will never reach.
But Serena isnât just one of the best or an ordinary player. Sheâs widely considered the best to have ever picked up a racquet.
In 2019 she failed to tie Margaret Courtâs Grand Slam record of 24, but she made the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open.
Williams is 38 years-old and her contemporaries have long since retired. She is playing against the generation that grew up idolizing her.
âFor being able to make the finals of Grand Slams against women 15 years or more her junior is quite the accomplishment.
2019 was an interesting year for Osaka.
She started the year on a high note, backing up her 2018 US Open championship with a win in Australia. Her second grand slam and back-to-back.
The last woman to win consecutive slams was the aforementioned Williams.
Things kind of went south for a bit after that.
She failed to make it into the second week of the French Open or Wimbledon Championships, and she lost in the 4th round of the US Open.
âBut she rebounded nicely to end the year, winning the Pan Pacific and China Open. Thatâs three titles and a year-end rank of #3 in the world.
At this yearâs Fina World Swimming Championships, Manuel became the first American to sweep the 50 and 100 meter sprint freestyle events.
An impressive feat considering the depth of talent in sprint freestyle and Americaâs dominant history in swimming.
Manuel became a star at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She stunned the swimming world by winning gold in the 100 meter freestyle and following it up with a silver in the 50 meter freestyle.
Since 2016, Manuel has finished no worse than third in the two sprint freestyle events at any major national or international competition.
She capped off the year being named USA Swimmingâs Female Athlete Of The Year at the Golden Goggle Awards.
âManuel will be one month shy of her 24th birthday when the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo take place. If she continues to perform at this level, sheâll be one of the household names of Team USA.
In 2019 Simone Biles completely embodied #BlackGirlMagic.
The Olympic Champion became the most decorated gymnast in World Championship history in 2019. She surpassed Belarusian Vitaly Scherboâs mark of 23 medals, and set the new all-time record at 25.
Of Bilesâ record 25 world championship medals, 19 are gold.
She is rewriting the history books in the sport of gymnastics, changing the way competitions are judged, and stretching the limits of what is possible.
Biles has four original moves named after her and they are among the most difficult elements in the sport.
âWhat she continues to do is mindblowing. She is the Greatest Gymnast Of All Time and the definition of excellence.