Across all facets of society, a number of alarming exposés have sought to unravel historical inequality. Particularly, sexual harassment cases have engulfed Hollywood and the BBC gender pay gap scandal has caused a crisis.
Finally, the cause of equality is being trumpeted on a much larger scale and has been thrust into the public consciousness in an unapologetic fashion. Society, it seems, is beginning to wake up from its discriminatory slumber.
Sport is often dismissed as pure leisure, a form of entertainment that carries little tangible weight. Yet 2017 has been an explosive year for women. From Eniola Aluko’s inspiring bravery to the myriad successes of British athletes, the power and potential that women can aspire to have been demonstrated for all: hopefully it will galvanise a generation.
Here are the top 10 moments for women’s sport in 2017
- Eniola Aluko’s bravery
Eniola Aluko’s laudable bravery in the face of an intimidating jury of F.A. personnel should be regarded as one of the most significant acts of 2017. Refusing to be silenced, the ex-English international’s perseverance in revealing the racism she and fellow players were subjected to has exposed the disdainful nature of England’s football body, and should inspire all those associated with the women’s game.
- Cricket World Cup triumph
An enthralling World Cup triumph on home soil provided the women’s game with an unprecedented level of exposure. It is now up to the authorities to exploit the enthusiasm that rippled through the country and translate it into tangible uptake.
- Hannah Cockcroft’s double word record
Three golds and two world records: Hannah Cockroft enjoyed astounding success in the 2017 Para Athletic Championships. Cockroft was electric in front of a home crowd in London, with her performances stimulating a current of excitement across the U.K.
- Lionesses roar
They captured the imagination of the public and dared to dream, and though the Lionesses came up short against the eventual winners, the Netherlands, they galvanised a nation. Four million tuned in for the semi-final defeat – a record number for a women’s football match – and despite the loss, this feels like a watershed moment.
- Rugby the real winner
A thrilling final ensured women’s rugby was the true winner of the 2017 World Cup. England lost their crown to New Zealand, but the 2.6 million who watched on television witnessed one of the great sporting spectacles: a frenetic and breathless 32-41 win for the Kiwis.
“Konta embodied authority”
- 39 years in the making
A semi-final defeat to Venus Williams at Wimbledon should not take away from Johanna Konta’s battling and stoic performances. Here was an athlete who embodied power and authority, with her ability to impose herself on a match striking.
- Elise Christie’s fight-back
From disqualification for all three events – 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters – in Sochi 2014 to triple world champion in March 2017, Christie’s fight-back is a tale of fending off her demons, coping with death threats and of immeasurable mental strength.
- Bianca Walkden makes sporting history
Bianca Walkden become the first British Taekwondo fighter to win back-to-back gold medals in the European Championships, and has not lost a bout since earning bronze in the 2016 Olympics, winning all four Grand Prix events for the first time in the sport’s history. A determined, industrious and indomitable fighter, Walkden should be held up as a role model.
“vanquished myth of weak, frail female body”
- Serena Williams pregnant when winning Aussie open
If ever there was a sportswoman to project control it is Serena Williams. A decorated and unrivalled history is evidence of Williams’ strength. So when it was revealed she won the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant, it was really no surprise. Still, it sought to vanquish the anachronistic myth of a weak, frail female body – if Williams’ exploits were already not enough.
- Australian cricketers make huge strides
Though the Australians team inflicted Ashes defeat on the English, their victory was a symbolic moment. The women’s team were awarded a massive pay rise, ensuring their players could make a living out of playing the sport professionally. Their success should be regarded as a marker for future disputes and emerge as a much-needed and refreshing change to the way in which women’s sport is considered financially.