Ashraf Ali Siddiqui looks at some stories of bravery and endurance
Courageous female athletes have proved that they are as fearless as their male counterparts and possess large reservoirs of courage that they fall back on whenever the need arises. These female athletes have fearlessly overcome all obstacles in their way while also setting an example for aspiring athletes around the world.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova nearly lost her livelihood in an attack on her home in 2016 in which she suffered severe injuries to her dominant left hand but underwent surgery and physical therapy. Kvitova went from not knowing whether she would be able to properly hold a tennis racket again to competing at the highest level, reaching the final of 2019 Australian Open and the semifinals of the 2020 French Open.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova didn’t just take on opponents on the court; she also faced a communist regime. It was reported that she left for America from her country at the age of 18 in 1975 and was stripped of her nationality. Navratilova left due to government authorities attempting to prohibit her from playing in America; she became an American citizen in 1981. Navratilova went on to win 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major doubles titles, and 10 major mixed doubles titles over a 30-plus-year professional career.
Monica Seles was at the center of one of the most shocking incidents in sports history. Yahoo Sports reports that on 30 April 1993, the tennis star was brazenly stabbed during a match. It took more than two years for Seles to recover physically and psychologically from the attack, but when she came back, she returned to her winning ways, emerging victorious at the 1995 Canadian Open, her first tournament since the incident. Seles later captured the 1996 Australian Open.
Bethany Hamilton from surfing lost her left arm in a shark attack when she was only 13 but that did not deter her and days later she was back on her surfboard and became a US national surfing champ two years after that. Even going back into the water after that is brave enough as it is, but to regularly compete at the highest level is some serious dedication.
Serena and Venus Williams
The Williams sisters have had to fight through a lot of adversity on their way to becoming two of the greatest tennis players of their generation. Their half-sister Yetunde Price was shot and killed in 2002 but the murderer was released in 2018 on parole, causing such grief and anxiety to Serena in particular that she suffered the worst loss of her career the day she heard the news. While it is unlikely Venus and Serena will ever truly get over what happened to their sister, they persevered nonetheless, and have cemented their legacy as two of the best to ever play their sport.
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King’s accomplishments and her fearless resolve make her not just a tennis icon, but a shining example for all women everywhere. She won 39 Grand Slam titles in her career but more importantly fought for women’s equality, and was instrumental in the creation of the WTA. She threatened to not play in the 1973 US Open unless the prize money was the same for men and women, and it then became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money. King also famously and soundly defeated Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes,” almost single-handedly affecting how female athletes are perceived, and were the first prominent professional female athlete to come out as gay in the early 1980s. The Weekender