For the full list and categories scroll to the bottom of this article
Ahead of International Women’s Day, here at Sport360 we are celebrating, and championing, some of the most influential and inspiring people from the world of sport.
This is not meant to be a countdown of the top 100, more a platform to show the impact women are making across all sectors, and all sports.
To show the diversity of change we have broken things down into athletes, boardroom and administration, coaches, personalities, and finally Arabs.
While this includes a lot of women from around the world, who are doing incredible things, it was important for us when setting out on this piece of work to highlight those on our doorstep here in the MENA region.
This is why we are incredibly proud to have been able to collaborate with Manal Rostom on this.
The face of the Nike hijab campaign and the founder of online community Surviving Hijab, Manal is both inspirational and influential when it comes to sport – both in terms of participation and decision being made in boardrooms.
Along with aiming to be the first Egyptian woman to complete the six major global marathons, Manal will also lead a group of women – most of whom will be wearing hijabs, to Everest base camp, further bringing crucial issue into the public conscious, and demanding conversations are aired and have a platform.
She’s the perfect fit for this list, and as well as working with us on it, rightly finds herself featured.
Manal said: “This has never been done before in the world of sports, and it not only focuses on Olympians and superstar athletes, but even down to some who are like the girl next door, which I am really fond of.
“I have been trying hard to break down barriers, but we have such a long way to go. We still need to spread a better message of tolerance and inclusivity around the world.
“Regardless of your religion, your colour, or gender, sport should be for everybody.”
The women you will see on the list are the trail blazers and trend setters who are not only breaking down walls, they are obliterating them.
They are taking on positions that seemed beyond that glass ceiling, competing in sports that ‘were never meant for women’, changing landscapes for the generations to come, and generally doing things that show there is no such thing as a dream too big.
They may be the ones leading the way, but there are armies now following in their footsteps.
There is so much more work to do, but the opportunities and platforms are appearing, parity may be some time away but with women like these are the forefront the pace of change will be vast.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BalanceForBetter, trying to ensure a more gender-balanced world, and one that celebrates the achievements of women.
Those women on our list are the pioneers for this, it’s time to celebrate and stand with them.
Amelie Mauresmo, France
Considering tennis is such a prominent sport in the fight for gender equality, one area which it is clearly lacking female representation is in coaching. On both the WTA and ATP tours there is a real dearth of female coaches and it is an extremely uncommon sight on the latter tour. That could change for future generations thanks to Amelie Mauresmo’s partnership with Andy Murray, though. The former world No1 made waves when he hired the the two-time Grand Slam champion as a coach back in 2014. It was a move practically unheard of in the upper echelons of the men’s game but it is one which has helped more players recognise the validity of bringing a woman into their teams. And it is one of the reasons why another male player has since hired Mauresmo with her compatriot Lucas Pouille linking up with the Frenchwoman late last year. Less than two months after hiring her, Pouille made his first ever Slam semi-final in Australia and the 25-year-old will hope to reap the rewards of being mentored by one of the most important figures in tennis.
– Mauresmo was named as the first woman to captain France’s Davis Cup team last June but opted instead to work with Lucas Pouille.
– The pair have enjoyed immediate results together with Mauresmo guiding Pouille, who had never previously won a match at the Australian Open, to the 2019 semi-finals.
– Andy Murray hired the former world No1 and two-time Grand Slam winner as coach in 2014, becoming the first leading male player to hire a female coach.
Did you know…
Mauresmo remains a brilliant athlete and decided to run the New York City Marathon again last year, confirming her attendance only a month beforehand. She averaged just under eight minutes a mile, finishing in a time of three hours, 27 minutes and 33 seconds – beating her 2010 mark.
“Andy didn’t care about the gender. Maybe being coached by his mum had something to do with that. He was used to taking advice from a female. Amelie opened the door and maybe other players won’t care one way or the other about the gender.” – Martina Navratilova (Source: The Independent)
Sue Bird, USA
When it comes to achievements in basketball few can hold a candle to Sue Bird. Three WNBA titles, and four Olympic gold medals tell you all you need to know. Bird is an extraordinary talent, who is now transferring her skills to the administration side of the game as a Basketball Operations Associate with the Denver Nuggets. Bird has already predicted it’s not long before the NBA has a female head coach – it could be her.
– Bird lead the WNBA for assists in three seasons.
– Her college career is ridiculous finishing up ranked first in three-point field goal percentage and free throw percentage, second in assists and steals, leading her team to a record of 114–4.
– Bird is now using her basketball knowledge to scout the next generation of players for the Nuggets.
Did you know…
Bird is one of nine women to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NCAA Championship, and a WNBA Championship
“I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but you have to know you’re going to make mistakes. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that counts.” – Sue Bird