These 2015 Women's Sports Highlights Will Change How You See Body Image

It's been a powerful year for women in sports – from the U.S. women's national soccer team winning the World Cup to Serena William's Grand Slam at Wimbledon.

Female athletes have shown us that sports have a powerful impact on girls and women's confidence — and studies prove it. 

According to the Women's Sports Foundation, girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports. 

We've rounded up some of our favorite quotes from incredible female athletes who demonstrate how participating in sports has impacted the way they think about their bodies.

"I'm comfortable in my body and I don't mind putting it on display. Honestly, I like how unique it is. My big arms, my bigger hands, these long legs — I love being different. If everybody was the same, it'd be a boring-ass world." –Brittney Griner, WBNA player

"I don’t look in the mirror and think "slim"; I look in the mirror and I’m like, “Whoa, beast!” It’s just crazy how much the body changes. Looking in the mirror I get surprised like every other week. It's like I'm Wonder Woman." –Chantae McMillan, Olympic heptathlete

"I think imperfection is beauty. Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them. I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am." –Aly Raisman, Olympic gymnast

"I'll be honest, I like everything about my body … You might be prettier and skinnier than me, but I'll kick your ass in a game of one-on-one.”  –Amanda Bingson, USA track & field hammer thrower

"I was built like a little powerhouse. When I was transferring from gymnastics to wakeboarding, I was a little self-conscious. There's not a huge difference going from a leotard to a bathing suit, but you’d see these beautiful girls in bikinis, and I'm only 13 or 14 years old with this buff little body. I grew into being really proud of it, knowing that that’s what has enabled me to do what I do." –Dallas Friday, wakeboarder

"I love who I am, and I encourage other people to love and embrace who they are. But it definitely wasn't easy — it took me a while." –Serena Williams, tennis player

"I just know how it empowered me. I was a really young, shy kid who was also from a military family, so we moved every 2-3 years. And sports was an easy way to make a connection when we moved to a new base, a new town to people with similar interests. And I think it really helped give me confidence not only with that move but with feeling that I could contribute." Mia Hamm, professional soccer player

NEXT: 10 Famous Women Dish Out the Truth About Body Image »

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• Top 10 Moments for Women in Sports
• Women in Sports: Playing with the Boys


Misty Copeland | After years of hard work, Misty Copeland took the biggest leap of her ballet career when she became the American Ballet's principle dancer.  Photo Credit: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

2015 U.S. Women's National Team | Winning the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup was just the beginning of positive celebrations for this group of talented women. Between a New York City parade held in their honor to a special Sports Illustrated cover series, it's safe to say these women are making the most of their time in the spotlight.  Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Serena Williams | This tennis champ slammed her way to the top at Wimbledon (again!) this year along with slamming down haters who tried to body shame her.  Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth