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17 Empowering Quotes from Female Athletes

Organized sports are nearly as ancient as civilization itself, with roots stretching back millennia to the first Olympic Games in ancient Greece in 776 BCE. However, prior to the 1800s, women were largely either excluded from sports or only encouraged to participate in traditionally “ladylike” activities such as horseback riding and swimming. Women weren’t allowed to compete in the Olympic Games until the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France, more than 2,500 years after the first iteration of the event was held in Athens.

Since then, women have been fighting to bat, volley, swim, pedal, and run their way through glass ceilings that have been put in place by an overwhelmingly patriarchal society and sports industry. Compared to their male counterparts, female athletes are often paid less, receive fewer corporate sponsorships, and have to deal with lower audience viewership. Despite these unfair setbacks, countless powerful women have proved they can work — and play — just as hard as anyone else.

From 1950s track stars to modern MMA idols, we’ve rounded up 17 of the most inspiring and empowering quotes from female athletes of the last 70 years, as a reminder that girl power is real, unapologetic, and incredible.

Sports taught me that there will always be obstacles; of course we’ll get knocked down, but it’s how you pick yourself up that matters.
Jennie Finch, three-time All-American softball player

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I can achieve any goal. Not trying to sound big-headed, but I just really bet on me.
Brittney Griner, WNBA player

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What matters is that you’re growing and you’re not staying the same.
Michelle Kwan, world champion figure skater

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I usually don’t know about any statistics until I break them.
Danica Patrick, professional racing driver

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Accept your insecurities, live life through them, and be happy with who you are.
Mikaela Shiffrin, World Cup Alpine skier

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Do not be afraid of failure. Through failure, you will learn so much about yourselves. It will set you on the course to reach the goals that you set for yourself.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic track and field star

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It’s not about being perfect, it’s about finding who you are, developing the tools you need to manage the chaos of life — and the things that come out of nowhere. It’s possible.
Bethany Hamilton, professional surfer

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All I can control is what I do — that’s to play my hardest and have fun out there.
Michelle Wie, award-winning professional golfer

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If you have purpose behind what you’re doing, those things that are meant to break you are going to make you.
Kerri Walsh Jennings, Olympic beach volleyball player

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I’m more than my medals.
Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast

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I hope other women and girls who faced what I did can find some outlet where they realize their strength and power — and they’ve had it in them the whole time.
Paige VanZant, UFC fighter

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Believe me, the reward is not so great without the struggle. The triumph can’t be had without the struggle. And I know what struggle is. I have spent a lifetime trying to share what it has meant to be a woman first in the world of sports so that other young women have a chance to reach their dreams.
Wilma Rudolph, Olympic sprinter

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I think that you always learn so much more from losing than winning.
Alex Morgan, professional soccer player

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People ask me, “Aren’t you afraid that you’re going to break?” Yes, that's a part of my life. I break, but I get back up again and I keep going.
McKenzie Coan, Paralympic swimmer

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Just when you think you can’t do it anymore, you kind of close your eyes and go for it.
Serena Williams, tennis star

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We’re all standing on the shoulders of the people before us. I want to help the younger generation understand what that is.
Sue Bird, WNBA player

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I am going to fight the good fight with my last breath.
Billie Jean King, world champion tennis player

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Featured image credit: Jamie Squire/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images

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About the Author
Melanie Davis-McAfee
M. Davis-McAfee is a freelance writer, musician, and devoted cat mom of three living in southwest Kentucky.
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