Milestone Mania: Why July Was the Best Month Ever for Women In Sports
We've officially reached a #PlayLikeAGirl tipping point — and these women aren't only crushing the game, they're changing it.
It's no secret that SELF loves strong, skilled, unapologetic, badass female athletes. Our July issue was all about what it’s like to #PlayLikeAGirl, and we’ve spent the past month exploring exactly what that looks like. (This 108-year-old woman throwing an opening pitch might just broaden your definition.)
And what a month to #PlayLikeAGirl it was! As ESPNw pointed out, events like the USWNT World Cup Victory, Serena’s Wimbledon win and Jen Welter's appointment as the first female coach in the NFL have made for a truly historic July for women’s sports, with boundaries being broken and accolades being earned in rapid succession.
These are the kinds of SELF Made victories that only come from years of hard work, perseverance and a refusal to give up when the going gets tough; in other words, exactly what you need to #PlayLikeAGirl. Let’s take a look at what made this past month so powerful.
Misty Copeland Pirouettes to Center Stage
We were overjoyed to hear a few weeks ago that Misty became the American Ballet Theatre's first African-American principal dancer in the history of the company. It was technically announced on the last day of June, but as far as kicking off #PlayLikeAGirl month, we couldn't have asked for a better way to go.
The U.S. Women's National Team Wins the World Cup
Call it the hat trick heard 'round the world. Carli Lloyd's history-making three goals during the World Cup final may have secured the odds of a win early in the game, but it was the work of all 23 players that helped Team USA win the Cup in Canada.
The USWNT Members Become Rockstars
No doubt about it, the coverage of the USWNT was unprecedented for any female athlete to date (and you won’t hear us complain about it!). First, there was the New York City ticker tape parade, an accolade that hasn’t been bestowed upon a non-New York team (much less a women’s team) since 1984. Then it was the individual Sports Illustrated covers, 25 in total. We loved watching our athletes win the World Cup, but it was incredibly satisfying to see them return home into the open arms of a media frenzy that was ready to celebrate them, too.
Serena Williams Dominates the Courts
When Serena Williams took the title this month at Wimbledon, she wasn't just setting herself up for a chance at a Grand Slam with this August's U.S. Open — she had already made history a second time with the Serena Slam. Wimbledon was her fourth Majors title in a row, starting with last year’s U.S. Open. All eyes are on Serena as she heads into the U.S. Open, hoping to take that Serena Slam one step further and win her first Grand Slam this summer.
WNBA Star Becky Hammon Coaches the San Antonio Spurs' Summer League Team
Just one year after WNBA star Becky Hammon became the first female coach in NBA history (when she was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach), Hammon again made history. This time, it was by becoming the NBA's first female head coach when she took the helm during the NBA's Las Vegas Summer Games. Hammon would go on to lead her team to the Las Vegas trophy, which is just about as impressive as you can get right out of the gate. Here's hoping we'll soon see her on the sideline during a regular season game.
Ronda Rousey Shuts Down Floyd Mayweather at the ESPYs
In one of the most unforgettable moments of this year's ESPY awards in Los Angeles, UFC star Ronda Rousey became the first female to win ESPN's Best Fighter category, beating out a host of male fighters along the way. Even better? She had some choice words she had for the boxer, who not only has a history of assaulting women, but has pretended not to know whom Rousey was in the past. "I wonder how Floyd feels being beat by a woman for once," joked Rousey. "I'd like to see him pretend to not know who I am now."
Mo'Ne Davis Wins Best Breakthrough Athlete at the ESPYs
Continuing the streak of female wins at the ESPYs was Mo'ne Davis, the little league dynamo pitcher who beat out the boys to win Best Breakthrough Athlete at the ESPYs. Davis was also the youngest winner of the category by a mile and has been outspoken about the need for more women’s sports coverage on television.
Caitlyn Jenner Owns the ESPYs With Her Powerful Speech
Arguably the biggest moment at the ESPYs was, of course, Caitlyn Jenner's flawless, brave speech about her transition from one of the sports world's most recognized faces to a new, challenging role. It was brave, it was moving, and it was excellent to see a room full of athletes make room for Jenner to pave the way for all athletes to forge their own paths.
Alex Morgan Scores the Cover of FIFA '16
One of the most popular video games of all time is EA’s yearly FIFA game, which lets players take on the role of their favorite soccer players and football clubs around the world. And for the first time in FIFA history, a female soccer star — USWNT's Alex Morgan — will grace the cover of this year’s game, appearing on FIFA ’16, alongside soccer superstar Lionel Messi.
U.S. Women’s Baseball Team Takes Home Gold in Their First Pan Am Games
The United States Women’s Baseball Team took home the gold medal, defeating Canada for the win. While men’s baseball and women’s softball both took silvers, it was the ragtag women’s baseball team that broke ground and came out strong from beginning to end.
Jen Welter Becomes the First Female Coach In the NFL
Jen Welter, who played 14 years of women's pro football, has now become the first female coach in the NFL and will serve as a coaching intern in the preseason and training camp. But if Cardinals' coach Bruce Arians has anything to say about it, it won’t be the last we see of Welter; he’s been pushing for female coaches in the NFL for months, and is a strong supporter of Welter in her new role.
More From SELF:
• The Crazy-Awesome Sport That Everyone Is Instagramming
• Under Armour's New Sports Bras Get a Boost of Girl Power
• History-Making Sports Illustrated Covers We Love
• How The World Cup Has Changed The Game in Women's Sports