In light of all the talk surrounding Ronda Rousey’s greatness, as of late, I thought it only be right to acknowledge who I consider my top five female athletes of 2015. My choices are of course up for debate if you find debate necessary, but I can guarantee you will find greatness in all of the following incredible women.
5. Elena Delle Donne: The 6 foot 5 sharpshooter of the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Chicago Sky. Averaging 20 points and six rebounds per game in her basketball career thus far, Delle Donne continues to be a dominating presence on the basketball court. Some of her accolades include being named the 2013 WNBA Rookie of the Year and a WNBA All-Star for the last three consecutive years. During her rookie year in 2013, she actually led all players in votes to play for the All-Star team, making her the first rookie in the league to accomplish that feat. However, I find her essential to this list for more than just her basketball skills, but her brand as well. Delle Donne’s desire to be close to her family is not something that she hides, and she refers to her younger sister Lizzie as the greatest inspiration in her life. Her sister was born with both cerebral palsy and autism, and Delle Donne herself battles with Lyme disease. In a need to give back, Delle Donne was named a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics, a platform she proudly uses to raise awareness for people with disabilities.
4. Lindsey Vonn: Lindsey Vonn was recently nominated for Best Female Athlete at the 2015 ESPY’s, but unsurprisingly lost to who other than Ronda Rousey, which we will get to a little later of course. Vonn, an incredibly skilled alpine skier of the US Ski Team, has won 67 World Cup races, which include at least one in all five disciplines of skiing. Her accolades include two world Championship gold medals in 2009 and three silver medals acquired in 2007 and 2011, making her the un-debated greatest in her sport. Vonn is also here for her extreme determination and willingness to overcome whatever obstacles obstruct her path. After a string of crashes and injuries plaguing Vonn in 2013, she returned to her sport more dominant than ever, reminding me that she was also nominated at the ESPY’s for Best Comeback Player, and may have just been the deserving recipient despite losing to the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski. After a two-year layoff, Vonn came back to set a new record of Women’s World Cup victories, among other accomplishments.
3. Carli Lloyd: For the year 2015, how could I leave out the US Women’s Soccer Team midfielder that made history and cemented her place as an American hero? Ignoring her previous accomplishments for a moment, let’s just relive the excitement of the World Cup Finals against Japan in early July. Four shots were made in the first half, three of those goals coming from the finesse of Lloyd, including the ever-memorable third, which was kicked from more than 50-yards away. Lloyd is responsible for recording the fastest hat trick in history and securing the World Cup title, if we’re being real. I will make sure to acknowledge the outstanding efforts by goalie Hope Solo, however, but Lloyd is an inevitable star with a passion for the game, and one heck of a talent.
Before we get to the top two athletes of 2015, I want to bring attention to the controversy surrounding whether or not Ronda Rousey deserves to be in discussion over Serena Williams. Rousey took home the ESPY for Best Female Athlete, which many had a problem with considering the lack of competition in her weight class. Whether you disagree with me or not is up to you, but the number two athlete goes to:
2. Ronda Rousey: The UFC Women’s Bantamweight undefeated Champion, who pretty much annihilated Bethe Correia in their matchup this past weekend. It took merely 34 seconds to win the fight, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering her two previous fights ended under 20 seconds. She’s renowned as the best female fighter in the world, but what’s incredible about Rousey is her fearless, fierce, and badass attitude. Rousey told the New Yorker in 2014, “I’m the heel. I’m the antihero … And I like it that way.” She’s right. She’s not the typical portrayal of a hero, but I imagine she is a hero to young girls with a similar dream and those that struggle with insecurities regarding their bodies. Considering she struggled from bulimia as a teenager, she has made a conscious effort to promote positive body images and promote awareness for similar eating disorders.
1. Serena Williams: In my opinion, the world-renowned Women’s Tennis star is unmatched by any female in her sport and any sport for that matter. With an endless repertoire of accolades and achievements, she has crip-walked across the tennis court and into the record books time and time again. She is the ultimate symbol of feminine power, work ethic, dominance, and confidence, which her incredible 17-career Grand Slam victories are testimony to. If ever there was an athlete with a killer instinct, Serena is undoubtedly one of them. In her most stunning feat to date, Williams completed her second “Serena Slam” when she won the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, which is her 6th Wimbledon title to go alongside her 21 Grand Slam singles titles. She is not only considered the best female athlete in history, but with a passion for giving back through extensive charity work, Williams is an inspiration to all and a phenomenal woman overall.