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Serena, Simone, and Laurie: Meet the Women of Color Piling Up Wins and Making History

serena wins wimbledon 2016

Serena Williams

In this past week, women of color made HUGE waves in the sports world.

It’s no secret that Serena Williams is an amazing athlete, but this weekend she proved – again – that she is one of the greatest athletes of all time when she won her 22nd Grand Slam title at the 2016 Wimbledon Championship. She rightly asked after the record-breaking win that “female” be removed from in front of the descriptions of her historic accomplishments, since she’s among the best of either sex. Williams is also a strong supporter of #EqualPay. She said, “I don’t think I would deserve to be paid less because of my sex, or anyone else for that matter, in any job.”

From three-time World Champion Simone Biles, to 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez and Gabby Douglas – the first Black gymnast to win the all-around champion at the 2012 Olympics – the US Gymnastics Team this year is no stranger to extremely talented women of color.

Simone Biles

Simone Biles

Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas

  • Simone Biles has fourteen world championship medals, two team golds, three all-around golds, three floor golds, two golds and one bronze on the balance beam, and two silvers and one bronze on vault. She is one of the most decorated U.S. gymnasts, and she’s expected to bring home many more gold medals from the Rio Olympics.
  • Laurie Hernandez is the first Latina athlete to make the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team since Tracee Talavera in 1984. And, at 16 years old, she’s also the youngest woman to compete on Team USA this year.
  • Gabby Douglas made history in so many ways at the 2011 London Olympics – not only did she win the individual all-around championship, she also won team gold medals. She is also the first Olympic all-around champion to return to the next Olympic Games since Nadia Comaneci in 1980!

This year’s U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team is the most diverse in US history. As our report Finishing Last: Girls of Color and School Sports Opportunities illustrates, women of color are not always given equal opportunities to play sports in school. That’s what makes this year’s U.S. gymnastics team so amazing – it will hopefully be used as an example of what sports teams should look like on the state and local level.

U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel

U.S. swimmer Simone Manuel

U.S, Swimmer Lia Neal. Photo Credit: Erin Horan, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fort-greene/7754673948

U.S, Swimmer Lia Neal. Photo Credit: Erin Horan, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fort-greene/7754673948

The U.S. Women’s Swimming Team also made big waves this weekend when two Black women secured their spot at this year’s Olympics! This is the first time in U.S. history that two Black women will be swimming on the same team. Lia Neal and Simone Manuel have both piled up some impressive wins already – Lia Neal won bronze in the 2012 Olympics, and Simone Manuel is a two-time NCAA champion! Both of these women go to Stanford University, and they are proof of how important Title IX is in eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex in education.

This week was pretty great in terms of sports and we can’t wait to see these amazing, talented, and beautiful women of color compete in the Rio Olympics this summer!