Nasty Gal x Sports Illustrated: 10 of the World’s Most Influential Women Athletes

Powerful game changers who never fail to bring it.

sports illustrated

We’ve teamed up with leading sports brand and cultural phenomenon, Sports Illustrated, to launch a 45-piece capsule of premium athleisure-luxe and functional sportswear. To mark its drop, we look back at 10 strong, era-defying, unstoppable women who have and continue to change the game both on and off the court. In no particular order…

Bille Jean King

Renowned for being one of the all-time greatest tennis players in the world. Billie won 39 Grand Slam titles during her time on the court, beat Bobby Riggs (who was known for being a male chauvinist) in the “Battle of the Sexes” back in 1973, and is a recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom (the first female to do so) due to her advocacy for women in sports and the LGBTQ community. Legend is an understatement.

Simone Biles

This year, Biles became the first woman in history to win seven straight titles at the U.S. Gymnast Championship. Biles has won a total of 36 medals during her career—27 gold, five silver and four bronze. Even more impressive? She’s vocal when it comes to mental health and her experience as a survivor of sexual abuse, using her platform to fight for other survivors. 

Lucia Rijker

The Dutch athlete is often dubbed “The Most Dangerous Woman in the World” and the “Queen of Lightning”, and it’s not hard to see why. She won 4 world titles, achieved a 36-0 record as a kickboxer, and ended her boxing career with a 17-0 record which included 14 knockouts. Damn.

Megan Rapinoe

A US soccer icon, Rapinoe was a key part of 3 women’s World Cup finalist teams, two of which won championships. But her impact goes beyond the pitch. Rapinoe has a forceful, influential voice when it comes to her activism for gender pay equality, LGBTQ rights, and racial justice, which she unwaveringly supports.

Misty Copeland

She was the first African American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history. Regarded a master of professional dance and one of the most talented ballet dancers ever to be seen, Copeland’s career goes beyond dance, from writing to acting as well as her work advocating for diversity.

Serena Williams

The most legendary tennis player of this generation, Williams revolutionized tennis with her powerful style, which won her 23 Grand Slam Singles titles—more than any other player during the open era, on top of 4 Olympic gold medals. Beyond this, she is also prolific for being one of the most prominent voices in sport fighting for equality and equal rights.

Bethany Hamilton

The professional surfer survived a shark attack back in 2003 and lost an entire arm. That didn’t stop her though. Hamilton got back to surfing as soon as she recovered, and went on to be known as a surf champion.

Tegla Loroupe

A Kenyan long distance track and road runner, Loroupe was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon. She still holds the world record for 25 and 30 kilometres to this day. Loroupe has since retired from running and now dedicates her life to supporting peace, education and economic advancement in Kenya and across Africa.

Gertrude Ederle

At the age of 15, Ederle became the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay. In 1924, she won 3 medals at the Paris Olympics, and by 1926, she was the first woman to swim across the English Channel—an achievement only 5 men had completed—beating the fastest existing record by almost two hours.

Junko Tabei

The Japanese mountaineer made history in 1975 when she became the first woman to summit Mount Everest—defying all gender expectations at the time. Afterwards, Tabei went on to climb many other huge mountains, and became the first woman to stand atop the Seven Summits by 1992. Before she died in 2016, Tabei had conquered 76 peaks all over the world.  

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