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Tomboy ICON | Serena Williams

By J .
on July 31, 2020

serena williams wimbledon 2016

Photo of Serena winning 22nd Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2016

Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player and has won 23 singles Grand Slam tournament titles, four Olympic gold medals, and made over $92 million in career prize money (more than any other female athlete). It wasn't always easy as there weren’t a lot of black tennis players for her to look up to and she had to be that role herself. Her parents encouraged her to love herself, and the way she
looked, even under the sometimes cruel scrutiny of the public eye.

serena williams as a child

Williams learned tennis from her father on public courts and turned professional in 1995. You don’t have to be a big sports fan to know that Serena is one of the greatest athletes of all time and has long been a role model for women. 

She says "Every woman's success should be an inspiration to another. We're strongest when we cheer each other on."



Tomboy ICON | Wilma Rudolph

By J .
on January 13, 2020

Wilma Rudolph 1960 Olympics

Photo of Wilma Rudolph during competition at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Wilma Rudolph was an American athlete and Olympic sprint champion. She was the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics in 1960. As a child she was paralyzed by polio but by age 12 she had regained her ability to walk and became an Olympic champion just eight years later.

Rudolph retired from running after her Olympic victory, became a schoolteacher, and coached high school and college running teams. She also created her own nonprofit to encourage underprivileged kids in sports. But though she was widely decorated and beloved as an inspiration, her life was cut tragically short when she died of brain cancer at 54, in 1994.

For Rudolph, her legacy was simple: showing people that if you don’t give up, you can achieve your dreams. “I would be very sad if I was only remembered as Wilma Rudolph, the great sprinter,” she said “To me, my legacy is to the youth of America to let them know they can be anything they want to be.”




Tomboy ICON | Megan Rapinoe

By J .
on July 08, 2019

Megan Rapinoe tomboy icon

Photo of Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States playing against Australia, 2019.

Megan Rapinoe is a professional soccer player for the United States women’s national team. She's internationally known for her crafty style of play, her boldness, and her iconic blonde hair. She helped the U.S. win the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015 and again in 2019 winning the tournament's best player and top scorer awards. In 2012 she led the U.S. Olympic Team to gold at the Summer Olympics in London. Rapinoe also plays and captains for Seattle's Reign FC in the National Women's Soccer League.

Megan Rapinoe tomboy icon

She has a twin sister named Rachael and of this relationship, Megan says "We sound exactly alike, but our personalities couldn’t be more different. Rach was the social queen. I was the tomboy. I had a lot of energy, to put it mildly. We used to go from playing street hockey in full gear, to playing basketball, then break for lunch, then play some soccer, then back into the street hockey gear."




Tomboy ICON | Janet Guthrie

By J .
on June 10, 2019

janet guthrie icon tomboy

Photo of Guthrie in the pits at the Indy 500 in 1979.

Janet Guthrie is an American professional race car driver who changed motor sports and broke the gender barrier when, in 1977, she became the first woman to qualify for and compete in the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "As far as I was concerned I wasn't a 'woman driver,' I was just a driver," said Guthrie. That same year, she was also the first female driver to compete in NASCAR's Daytona 500.

No woman had ever competed in those prestigious events before. Her fellow drivers, the media and fans were all pretty hostile towards her when she began racing but "I felt confident that once they had gained the experience of running against me, they would figure out I was what I said I was: Just another race car driver. The fact that I was a woman was completely irrelevant, and to see attitudes change was very gratifying." said Guthrie.

Janet Guthrie empowering women icon

In 1980, she was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall Of Fame and in 2006 the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame. Her helmet and race suit can be viewed at the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. and her mark in the history of sports will live on forever.




Tomboy ICON | Katherine Switzer

By J .
on June 10, 2019

Photo of Switzer being chased down by an angry race official in the Boston Marathon.

In 1967 Katherine Switzer, an American author, became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a numbered, registered participant. During the marathon an official tried to oust her from the race by grabbing at her bib number but he was unsuccessful and she completed the race. After the incident with the official, Switzer turned to her coach and said, “I’m finishing this race on my hands and knees if I have to.” Even though she completed the marathon, the angry official managed to get her disqualified from the race for being a woman.

The Boston Marathon is one of the most prominent races in the United States. But back in the 1960s, women weren't allowed to compete. It wasn't until 1972, five years after Switzer's run, that women could officially participate.




Tomboy ICON | Dorothy Kamenshek

By J .
on April 26, 2019

Photo of Kamenshek, known to jump three or four feet in the air to snag the ball at first base.

Dorothy “Dottie” Kamenshek was an American baseball player in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1943 to 1953. She played first base for the Illinois Rockford Peaches and was considered one of the greatest female players of all time. An All-Star for the league almost every year she played, Dottie led in batting and made leaping catches at first base, sometimes doing a split in the air. Former New York Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp called Kamenshek “the fanciest-fielding first baseman I’ve ever seen, man or woman.”

She slid frequently, despite wearing the mandatory short skirt - a uniform designed to appeal to male fans. “At first, they just came to see the skirts,” Kamenshek said, “and then we showed them we could play.”



Tomboy ICON | Sarah Marquis

By J .
on March 19, 2019

Tomboy icon Sarah MarquisPhoto of Sarah Marquis in Western Australia, 2015 - eating grains and fruits gathered from the bush.

Sarah Marquis is a Swiss adventurer and explorer. If you put all her journeys together they would stretch around the globe and the wilder the terrain the better.  She's walked across the United States, walked across Australia, hiked through the Andes from Chile to Machu Picchu. In 2010 she began a three-year-long solo walk from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, into China, Laos, and Thailand. Along the route, she was harassed by Mongolian men on horseback and threatened by Laotian drug dealers. For security, she sometimes disguised herself as a man and tried not to leave tracks so as not to be followed. In 2014 she was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year. 

She says as a child growing up in the countryside of Switzerland, she would disappear for hours exploring. "I've always been wild," says Sarah, "Climbing trees, checking out animals and creepy crawlies, it all shaped the person I am today."



Tomboy ICON | Ann Meyers Drysdale

By J .
on November 30, 2018

Photo of Meyers at the Pacers’ 1979 rookie and free agent camp where she earned admiration from fellow players for her grit and competitiveness.

Ann Meyers Drysdale is a retired American basketball player and sportscaster. She was the first woman offered a four-year athletic scholarship at UCLA where she played basketball (1974–1978). As a kid she remembers being in a Catholic elementary school and wearing shorts under her uniform skirt so she could play with the boys on the playground. "I must have been 10 or 11 years old, and one of the teachers grabbed me by the arm and said, 'You can't play with the boys. It's not ladylike.' I didn't understand it," she said. "My parents never discouraged me from doing anything my brothers were doing." 

In 1979, Ann became the first woman to sign as a free agent with an NBA team, participating in a 3-day tryout with the Indiana Pacers. Although she didn't make the team, she dared to go where no woman had gone before and made her mark in NBA history.

Ann always wore the term tomboy as a badge of honor. "Yeah, I was a little proud of it," she said. "That's what it meant to be good at sports if you were a girl."




Tomboy ICON | Elspeth Beard

By J .
on October 20, 2018

Photo of Elspeth Beard in London after completing her solo ride around the world. (1984)

Elspeth Beard is an English architect and motorcyclist. In 1982, an age before the internet, smartphones, and when women rarely travelled alone to adventurous countries – Elspeth set off to ride her motorcycle around the world. She'd ridden through unforgiving landscapes, countries ravaged by war, witnessed civil uprisings that forced her to fake documents, fended off sexual attacks, biker gangs and corrupt police convinced she was trafficking drugs. She's the first English woman to ride a motorcycle around the world and achieved something then that is still remarkable today.

"If my story can now inspire other people, especially women to believe there are no limits to what can be achieved with self-belief and determination," Elspeth says, "then this would bring a whole new meaning to my trip."



Tomboy ICON | Laura Ingalls Wilder

By J .
on July 07, 2018

American author Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote the much-loved "Little House" book series based on her real-life adventures growing up on the Western frontier during the late 1800s.

Laura was a spirited young tomboy who preferred fishing, playing baseball, wintertime snowball fights and racing around with the boys after school.

In 1974, her books were adapted for the television series "Little House on the Prairie". Actress Melissa Gilbert played young Laura for nine seasons, growing up in the role from the age of ten to eighteen.



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