No doubt female athletes have to be strong AF.
They climb mountains, perform back flips on four-inch-wide beams, run an entire damn marathon at a five-and-a-half-minute-mile clip. Heck, Serena Williams even won a Grand Slam in her first trimester of pregnancy.
So what's a few extra barriers to bust through, really?
When they're not becoming the first woman to hold a full-time coaching position with an MLB squad (hey, Alyssa Nakken!) or fighting to net the same payday as their male, arguably less successful, counterparts (oh, hiiiii four-time World Cup-winning U.S. women's national soccer team), they're simply hustling for some damn recognition.
After then-University of Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu scored a triple-double in the 2019 NCAA tournament, she was surprised to see ESPN fixate only on the men who had reached the same heights. "They had posted something about Ja Morant getting one and said that there was only eight or seven people that ever got one in the NCAA tournament, and they listed all the men that had gotten a triple-double," she later explained to the network's magazine. "And so I was like, 'All right, well this is my chance, I'm going to say something.'"
Her post-game snipe: "It probably still won't get recognized because ESPN never recognizes women's sports."
Though, to be fair, triple-doubles are pretty common place for this year's number one WNBA draft pick, the first collegiate player to net 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists ever. As in none of her male contemporaries have matched her achievement.
"We are always having to qualify our accomplishments," USWNT's lethal scorer Megan Rapinoe noted to Glamour of the extra burdens placed on female athletes. "We always have to be like: Yes, we won, and we're inspiring a generation, and we're touring the country, and we're social activists, and we're really marketable, and, and, and!"
The expectations are endless and yet, here they are, continuing to surpass them, while wondering at what point exactly they'll be rewarded for their work. "At the crux of everything is that when we play a game—win the game, lose the game, tie the game, whatever—what we're asking is that we'll have the same opportunity to make the same amount of money," Rapinoe told Glamour. "We should be treated equally."
While the whole world isn't quite there yet, we are marking Women's Equality Day. Held on Aug. 26 to commemorate the adopting of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave (white) women the right to vote, it's become a catchall for all celebrations of equality. And we can think of no better way to recognize the day (besides registering to vote!) than honoring our favorite record-breaking, goal-scoring, medal-collecting badasses.
Here are just a few of our top game-changers.