It’s been a groundbreaking 12 months for women’s sport and 2021 has treated us to some truly unforgettable moments.
This year’s Olympics saw Team GB’s female athletes outnumber their male counterparts for the first time in 125 years.
Meanwhile, the likes of Fallon Sherrock once again made history in a historically male-dominated sport. The darts star became the first woman to reach the last 16 of a major tournament and went on to make the quarter-finals.
Though Sherrock’s performances have been memorable, we’ve picked out our top five moments from across all of women’s sport this year.
From Grand National glory to Grand Slam success, read on to find out what makes our list:
5. Canada win Olympic gold in women’s football
Canada won their first-ever gold medal in women’s football with a thrilling 3-2 victory on penalties against Sweden at Tokyo 2020.
Prior to the tournament, the likes of the USA, Sweden and the Netherlands were considered the main contenders for gold, but Canada defied the odds to secure a remarkable victory in the final.
Despite finishing second in their group, behind Great Britain, Canada then knocked out Brail on penalties in the quarters before claiming a shock 1-0 victory over the USA in the semi-final.
The team were 1-0 down in the final to Sweden before Jessie Fleming equalised with a penalty and Julia Gross then converted the winning spot-kick in the shoot-out.
Victory also gave women’s football icon Christine Sinclair a first major international trophy at the age of 38. The forward has played more than 300 times for Canada and is the world’s all-time leader for international goals, having scored 188 times for the national side.
4. Julianna Peña defeats Amanda Nunes to win women’s bantamweight title
Amanda Nunes is considered the best women’s MMA fighter of all time and was on a run of 12 consecutive UFC wins until earlier this month.
Enter, Julianna Peña. The American had long been calling for a fight against Nunes and urged the public not to underestimate her ahead of the contest.
The 32-year-old delivered on her promise and secured a staggering second-round win –– forcing Nunes to submit via a rear-naked choke.
Peña had taken a two-year break from the UFC to have a child between 2017 and 2019 and claims she is the inaugural “mom champ” of women’s MMA.
But a rematch against Nunes is almost certainly going to happen at some point next year. And with the former champion desperate for redemption, it has the potential to be the biggest women’s UFC contest ever.
3. Simone Biles wins bronze in balance beam final at Tokyo 2020
Simone Biles won widespread praise at the Olympics this summer after opening up on her mental health struggles.
The gymnastics icon withdrew from a number of events in Tokyo, citing how she felt too much pressure and was struggling with ‘the twisties’ – a condition that gave her a temporary loss of air balance awareness.
However, despite vocalising her mental health struggles and fear over competing, Biles returned to take part in the balance beam final and won a bronze medal.
This was her seventh Olympic medal in total, making her the most decorated American gymnast of all time.
2. Rachael Blackmore wins the Grand National
Irish Jockey Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to ever win the Grand National in its 182-year history.
Blackmore rode “Minella Times” to victory, after taking the lead on the second-last fence, and maintained it to the finish ahead of dark horse Balko Des Flos.
The 32-year-old also became the first jockey to partner a winner at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival this year and won the Ruby Walksh trophy for leading Cheltenham jockey.
Like Sherrock, Blackmore’s achievements are even more impressive given horse racing has always been a heavily male-dominated industry.
Speaking after her win at Aintree, the Irish star said: “I don’t feel male or female right now. I don’t even feel human…. It’s unbelievable.”
1. Emma Raducanu wins the US Open
At the start of the year, few people outside of the tennis world had heard of Emma Raducanu. Now, she is one of the most famous sportswomen on the planet.
The teenager made headlines at Wimbledon as she reached the fourth round at the All England Club but her season was only just getting started.
Indeed, Raducanu then stormed to victory at the US Open, without dropping a set –– becoming the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam title.
This win saw her rise to the top 20 of the world rankings and leapfrog the likes of Heather Watson and Johanna Konta to be Britain’s new number one tennis player.
Since her victory in New York, Raducanu has landed endorsement deals with Tiffany as well as Dior and even attended the prestigious Met Gala.
And last weekend, the 19-year-old was named the BBC’s Sports Personality the Year –– the first time a woman has won the award in 15 years.