When athletes get ready for competition, they often make sure to eat their pregame fuel and get their gear in order before they enter the fray. Sometimes that preparation includes fixing one’s hair. For some female athletes, that means tying it up in a ponytail, braiding it back, or letting it be.
But sometimes hair is more than the stringy stuff that sits atop your head. It can be something so unique that it defines you. Over the years there have been countless female athletes whose talent and signature hairdos have caused fans to stare in awe. Here are 18 women whose eye-catching looks have helped them to steal the show.
You know what they say: Look good, feel good, and play even better.
1. Venus and Serena Williams (tennis)
In the ’90s, Venus and Serena Williams rocked the beads like no other and they sure did help them on the court. In 1998, Serena made her pro debut and Venus won her first WTA title at the IGA Tennis Classic in Oklahoma City.
2. Megan Rapinoe (soccer)
There are shirts dedicated to Megan Rapinoe’s hair. That’s how iconic her style is. The U.S. national soccer team midfielder was actually a brunette before she dyed it platinum blond, and now it’s how people identify her on the field.
3. Madison Kennedy (swimming)
Pan Am Games silver medalist Madison Kennedy is not afraid to dye her hair despite the harsh effects of chlorinated pool water. Here the 29-year-old sports a rad look that seems to have been inspired by unicorns—or a bag of berry Skittles.
4. Nzingha Prescod (fencing)
U.S. Olympic fencer Nzingha Prescod is known for the golden afro she keeps beneath her protective mask. In 2015, she became the first African-American woman to medal at World Championships.
5. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (track and field)
Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce went all out for Jamaica during the 2016 Rio Games. Fun fact: the gold in the Jamaican flag stands for sunlight while the green stands for hope and the country’s agricultural resources.
6. Lianne Sanderson (soccer)
In 2016, British national soccer team player Lianne Sanderson and her iconic blond mohawk was a pleasant spark on the WNY Flash roster.
7. Anneisha McLaughlin (track and field)
Jamaican sprinter Anneisha McLaughlin was channelling Pippi Longstocking when she chose to wear this look.
8. Essence Carson (basketball)
When Los Angeles Sparks forward Essence Carson plays basketball it looks like there’s a fire in her heart and a fire on her head. We can’t take our eyes off it.
9. Kadeisha Buchanan (soccer)
Kadeisha Buchanan’s red streak during the 2015 World Cup was a great complement to her national team jersey and her Canadian pride.
10. Martina Pretelli (track and field)
Olympian Martina Pretelli of San Marino wasn’t the happiest when she saw the results of her 100-meter dash at the 2013 IAAF World Championships. Maybe she discovered her hair wasn’t the most aerodynamic look she could have chosen, but we give her bonus points for being bold.
11. Ashlyn Harris (soccer)
We often hear about Megan Rapinoe’s signature platinum look, but U.S. national soccer team goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris’ short cut needs more attention. Last fall, the former blonde made a big chop and dyed it brown. Sometimes you’ll see her wearing a mini bun.
12. Madison Packer (hockey)
In the National Women’s Hockey League, it’s pretty easy to point out Madison Packer when she takes off her helmet. The New York Riveters forward has bold undercut with a blond shock on the top.
13. Florence Griffith-Joyner (track and field)
Florence Griffith-Joyney aka Flo Jo aka the fastest women who ever lived was known for designing her own flashy uniforms to stand out on the track. In the 1980s, she rocked an epic mullet, which can be more accurately described as a majestic mane.
14. Eunice Barber (track and field)
French high jumper Eunice Barber’s superhero hair during the 2006 European Championships had us thinking about Sonic the Hedgehog.
15. Stefanie Dolson (basketball)
When Stefanie Dolson played for the Washington Mystics, she had electric purple hair that would light up the court.
16. Dorothy Hamill (figure skating)
Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill became famous not only for her impressive aerials, but for her striking wedge cut. It was a popular look during the 1970s.
17. Chloe Kim (snowboarding)
Three-time X-Games gold medalist Chloe Kim has hair that is basically a mood ring. It’s constantly changing colors. The 17-year-old was only allowed to dye it after making a deal with her mom in 2014. If Kim made the podium at the US Open, she could get her hair done, her mom told her. Luckily for Kim, she placed third at the competition and her hair has been changing ever since.
18. Olga Korbut (gymnastics)
In her heyday, Russian gymnast Olga Korbut wore little pigtails tied in ribbon. She may have looked like a ten-year-old, but by the time she won her fourth gold medal podium at the 1976 Olympic Games, Korbut was old enough to have vodka shots at the bar.
These are just a few of the athletes who have some of the most interesting haridos around. Who else do you think makes the cut?