Famous Black Women in Sports

Jacei Roland, Reporter

Florence Griffith Joyner, or FloJo, was an American sprinter known for setting world records in the 100 meters and 200 meters race. These records have gone untouched since 1988. Joyner began running at age 7 in California, and ended up going to the University of California to train with Bob Kersee. Joyner ended up going to the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 and won a silver medal for the 200-meter race. Joyner became very well known for her long nails and decorated racing suits. Soon after this race, she decided to go into semi-retirement, altering her physique and starting position. Joyner went on to race in the Olympics in Seoul, winning three gold medals and an award for the nation’s top amateur performer, and sparked rumors of banned substance usage. In 1989 Joyner created a foundation for underprivileged children and was inducted into the Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1995.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams are both known for their independent successes and team successes around the world. Serena Williams and Venus Williams are a sister dominating team in women’s tennis, winning many Olympic medals together. Serena and Venus both moved to Compton at a young age and began playing tennis by age 4. Once the girls moved to Florida, they began training with coach Rick Macci, which they later stopped to continue to play for their father, Richard Williams. Venus started her professional career at the age of 14, winning her first professional game against Shaun Stafford. Serena, on the other hand, started her professional career at age 16. Her professional career started out a little bumpy, but she shortly became the first lowest-ranked tennis player to beat two of the top ten tennis players in the same tournament. Although the sisters make a great pair, they have faced each other as opponents 31 times, Serena beating Venus 19 of them. The sisters started their well known pairing at age 18 and 17, winning their first Grand Slam title together, launching their career from there. 

Simone Biles is a world-famous gymnast, who became widely known for her performance at the 2016 Olympic Games. Biles became the first female gymnast to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games, and win three consecutive world-all-around titles. Biles had begun gymnastics at age 6 on a day-care field trip to Bannon’s Gymnastics, and remained a part of the gym for 11 years. Biles competed in the 2010 Women’s Junior Olympic National Championship and won a gold and bronze medal in floor and vault. Just two years later, Biles became a dominator in all four events, incorporating difficulty into every event. In 2014, Biles won her first all-around title at only 4’9” tall, and became the first African American woman to claim the title. In 2014 Biles won four gold medals in the World Championship and claimed her third all-around title in 2015, and in 2018 Biles became the first female in almost 25 years to win all five events and her record-setting fifth all-around title. Biles soon became the most decorated female gymnast in the World Championships History, winning a total of 20 medals throughout her career. 

A’ja Wilson grew up in Hopkins, South Carolina, and ended up starting varsity as an 8th grader. Wilson averaged 24.7 points per game, as well as 14.9 rebounds throughout her high school career. Wilson led her team to their state championship in 2014 as a senior, where she averaged 35 points per game. Her stats her senior year led her to be the McDonald’s All-American and was rated #1 for the ESPN HoopGurlz prospect. Wilson began her college career at the University of South Carolina and played in 37 games her freshman year. Wilson won her first Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year as a sophomore and in 2018 she played her best season according to her stats, and won all the National Player of the Year awards. On January 18, 2021, the University of South Carolina dedicated a statue of Wilson near the main entrance of Carolina’s arena. In 2018, Wilson was drafted into the WNBA to play for the Las Vegas Aces and had her debut on May 20, 2018, and had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson was decorated throughout her years in the WNBA and in 2022, Wilson won her second MVP and her first Defensive Player of the Year.