by Krislyn Domingue
Black women have a long, historic tradition of being amazingly talented, honored athletes and competitors. We have forged spaces in all areas of athletic competition and made our names well known and respected. However, we are often not celebrated while we are on the rise—at least not to the same extent that young, Black male athletes are. Thus, the following list is for that purpose: To celebrate five of our own young, extraordinary Black female athletes that you should be keeping your eyes on!
Artistic gymnast and future University of California Los Angeles student Simone Biles follows in the footsteps of other young, talented gymnasts who made their marks, like Gabby Douglas and Dominique Dawes. As of Oct. 2014, Biles has won more world championship gold medals (six to be exact) than any other U.S. gymnast. She is the first African-American to be World All-Around Champion, which she was achieved back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. You can join Bile’s pretty massive following via her Twitter and Instagram accounts and keep up-to-date on the news of the rising star on her website.
Eighteen-year-old Taylor Townsend is another young Black standout in the world of tennis. Townsend, often considered to be the next Serena Williams, entered the professional ranks of tennis by winning both the 2012 Australian Open junior singles and doubles titles. She then followed those up with the junior doubles titles at Wimbledon and United States Open, also in the same year. Additionally, she is the first American to hold the No. 1 year-end world ranking for junior girls since Gretchen Rush in 1982. You can follow Townsend’s happenings on her official Facebook page, which features recent photos from the up-and-coming star’s 2015 run in the Australian Open.
Brianna Turner is a current freshman at the University of Notre Dame, and plays forward on the school’s women’s basketball team. She was named the 2014 Gatorade High School Female Athlete of the Year, following in the footsteps of another Black woman basketball player, Skylar Diggins. “Bri”—a native of Pearland, Texas—is a five-time gold medalist with USA Basketball, most recently at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Collegiately, Turner was recently the first freshman to earn Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honors this season and boasts five Freshman of the Week honors, the most of any rookie. You can view Bri’s commentary on life as a stellar student-athlete via her twitter: @_Breezy_Briii.
Lia Neal, a sophomore at Stanford University, is a competitive swimmer and competes in freestyle events. The 19-year-old powerhouse made her Olympic debut in 2012 at the Summer Olympics in London, winning a bronze medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Neal helped Stanford swim to national titles and finished her freshman year with seven All-American accolades. Check out her Twitter and website!
These young women are on their respective paths to becoming legends. And they are carrying on the tradition and precedent of athletic excellence set by their Black women forebears.
And to the young women mentioned above and the many others just like them, we applaud and celebrate you! Your accomplishments are important and valid.
Did we miss anyone on the list? Share the names of other young, Black female athletes that we should know in the comments.
Krislyn Domingue is a sophomore, Sociology & Anthropology and Comparative Women’s Studies double major at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys reading, writing, and sipping Chai Tea. Tweet her: @krislynsd.