Movers and shakers

To celebrate International Women's Day, we pick out our 10 most inspirational women in world sport. What do you think? Who have we missed out? Who shouldn't be anywhere near the list? Share your thoughts below...

Last Updated: 06/03/13 5:42pm

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Billie Jean King


Billie Jean King dominated women's tennis in the 1960s and early '70s, winning 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

But the American's influence runs much further - from her victory in the 'Battle of the Sexes' over the noisily chauvinist Bobby Riggs to founding the Women's Tennis Association.

She has stood as a shining light for women in sport for 40 years and proved that it is possible for women to be highly successful and influential while also being open about and proud of their sexuality.

Nicola Adams


Born in 1982 in Leeds, Adams took up boxing training at the age of 12 with her first bout following a year later. She went on to become a three-time silver medallist at the world championships and is the reigning European flyweight champion.

Adams became the first English woman to win a medal in a major tournament with silver in the European Championships in Denmark in 2007.

She added world silver the following year before being sidelined by a back injury for almost a year.

Adams returned to training and fighting after a long lay-off and, in March 2010, was chosen as part of the GB squad aiming for London 2012, where women's boxing was making its debut.

She dominated the flyweight division and, in the inaugural women's gold medal bout, cruised to victory over China's Ren Cancan.

Stacey Allaster


As chairman and CEO of the WTA, Stacey Allaster is in charge of the richest and most successful of all women's sporting organisations.

Since she took on the role in 2009, Allaster has introduced a record number of sponsors to the tour and with a contract running to 2017 was named by Forbes magazine as one of the "Most Powerful Women in Sports".

As president of the WTA from 2006, Allaster was instrumental in securing equal prize money for women players at all four Grand Slams, which was finally completed in 2007 when Wimbledon and Roland Garros committed to offering equal pay to male and female athletes.

Ellie Simmonds


Ellie Simmonds secured her status as the nation's sweetheart in London this summer when she won four Paralympic medals and broke two world records at the same time.

Born in 1994 in Walsall, Simmonds was born with achondroplasia (dwarfism) and first took up swimming aged five.

She became the youngest Briton to win an Olympic or Paralympic medal at the age of 13 years and 9 months when she won two gold medals.

Following such unprecedented success, Simmonds won the BBC Young Sports Personality of the year in 2008. She also became the youngest recipient of the MBE aged 14.

After being the poster girl for the Paralympic Games in Britain, Simmonds went on to yet more success in London. The four times Paralympic champion won gold medals in the S6 400m Freestyle and SM6 200m Individual Medley, with a silver in the S6 100m Freestyle and bronze in the S6 50m Freestyle.

The Swansea swimmer currently has five world records to her name and looks as bright a prospect as ever with Rio next on the horizon.

Charlotte Edwards


The 2009 World Cup-winning England captain has been hailed an an inspirational figure for her achievements on the cricket field.

Since making her debut in 1996 at the age of 15, Edwards has played the leading role in establishing England as the domnant force in world cricket, winning the World Cup, the T20 World Cup and the Ashes.

Although the 33-year-old endured disappointment at this year's World Cup in India as her England side were knocked out following defeat to Australia - ultimately finishing third - Edwards shone on an individual level.

As well as becoming the game's all-time leading ODI run-scorer, she was also the only player to notch two centuries and was named in the team of the tournament.

More than anyone else she has helped turn cricket into a mainstream women's sport at which England excel and inspired countless women and girls to take up the game.

Danica Patrick


The 30-year-old is the most prominent female racing driver in the world today. Patrick made her name in the IndyCar series, winning one race and finishing third in the legendary Indianapolis 500 race of 2009 - the highest-ever finish by a woman.

In recent years she has moved into NASCAR and created further history when she secured pole position for this year's Daytona 500, leading a lap and eventually going on to finish eighth - all new records for a female.

Her achievements, as well as earning her lucrative endorsement and modelling deals, have made her one of the most well-known figures in American sport.

Jessica Ennis


Born in Sheffield in 1986, the London 2012 poster girl was involved with track and field from a young age. At 11, she joined the City of Sheffield Athletic Club and her early teenage years were also when she met coach Toni Minichiello, who guided her entire career.

Ennis developed and improved consistently, making her breakthrough in 2005 when she won the European junior title. She faced frustration in 2008 when a stress fracture in her right foot ruled her out of the Beijing Olympics.

Despite this setback, the Sheffield athlete was back on the track the following year when she won the heptathlon at the world title in Berlin.

Her Olympic chance finally arrived in London and Ennis did not disappoint - winning heptathlon gold and setting a new British record for the 100m hurdles in the process.

Tanni Grey-Thompson


Tanni Grey-Thompson has overcome the disability of spina bifida to become the best-known paralympian of all time.

She competed in five Olympics from 1992 to 2004, winning a total of 16 medals including 11 gold, while also breaking 30 world records and winning the London Marathon on six occasions.

Grey-Thompson is patron of numerous charities and was awarded an MBE in 1993, OBE in 2000 and was made Dame five years later. She was created a life peer in 2010 and her title conferred as Baroness Grey-Thompson.

Serena Williams


The American has been at the forefront of women's tennis for over 15 years now having turned professional at the tender age of 13.

Her career achievements are well-documented and, having made her major breakthrough in 1999 when she won the US Open as a 17-year-old, Williams has gone on to collect a further 14 grand slam titles.

However, 2012 proved to be a stellar year even by her standards as Serena overcame a serious foot injury to collect the Wimbeldon title for a fifth time and then the US Open for a fourth time.

The powerful right-hander then completed a career Golden Slam in singles as she collected Olympic gold at the London games, beating Maria Sharapova in the final at Wimbledon.

Those achievements helped Serena to reclaim the World No 1 ranking in February 2013, becoming the oldest woman to do so at the age of 31 years and 145 days.

Seemingly still getting better, Williams has proved a true trailblazer for the sport and her longevity and competitive spirit mark her out as a genuine inspiration.

Allyson Felix


After flirting with basketball from an early age, Felix focused on athletics during her school years and was named America's High School Athlete of the Year in 2003 at the age of 17.

The following year she competed in her first Olympic Games, finishing second behind Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 200 metres to earn the silver medal.

She again had to play second fiddle to Campbell-Brown in the 200m at the Beijing Olympics, but did strike gold as part of the 4x400m relay team.

However, her wait for individual Olympic glory came to an end in London last year when she beat Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Carmelita Jeter in the 200 to claim gold, with longtime rival Campbell-Brown coming home in fourth place.

Felix would go on to add a second gold as she helped America win the 4x100m title and became one of the faces of the Games.

A devout Christian, Felix has often stated the leading role that her faith plays in her life, but has simultaneously become a hot marketing property having signed a highly-lucrative sponsorship deal with Nike. The 27-year-old is now seen as one of, if not, the leading lights in American track and field.

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