It’s been 44 years since American tennis legend Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in the infamous Battle of the Sexes of 1973. When King hit that final point to secure the victory, she proved to the tennis world that women should be taken seriously on the court.
But the fight for gender equality in women’s sports still rages on as female athletes continue to prove their worth for equal pay and equal television coverage. As the new film “Battle of the Sexes,” starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, debuts on Friday, we at Excelle Sports asked ourselves: Are there any female athletes today who could beat male athletes in their own sport?
Here’s a list of nine women we think would give guys a hard time and could make history in prime BJK style.
1. Katie Ledecky
Katie Ledecky is only a sophomore at Stanford, but she’s been on the scene since she was 15, when she won a gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics. Her legend grew last year in Rio de Janeiro as she took home four more gold medals, including one of the most dominant performances ever in the sport when she defended her gold in the 800m free with a world record time of 8:04.79. According to data, Ledecky’s gold medal-winning 400m free performance in Rio was only 6.31% slower than Australian Mack Horton, who won the men’s 400m free. The young Cardinal hasn’t even reached her peak yet. Perhaps she can close that gap.
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2. Serena Williams
Of any professional female athlete, Serena Williams might be the one that sports fans have wanted most to see face off against a man on the tennis court. Williams is hands down the greatest female tennis player of all-time, having won 23 Grand Slams titles. Since she’s won the most major titles in the Open Era, Williams has completely dominated the sport on the women’s side. If there’s anywhere she can volley with the men, it’s certainly on hard court. Williams has won more Australian Open titles and U.S. Open titles than any male player. Not to mention, her longevity of dominance, similar to that of Roger Federer, is remarkable. Based on her success, we’re pretty certain that Serena would rank higher than No. 700 in men’s tennis. Yes, we are talking to you, John McEnroe.
3. Simone Biles
Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast (male or female) of all-time, and she is arguably one of the best female athletes of our time. With her jaw dropping aerial twists and near-perfect landings, Biles has earned a total of 19 Olympic and World Championship medals. Now, female gymnasts don’t compete in all of the same events as the men do, but how cool would it be to see Biles fly around on the rings or pommel horse like her male counterparts?
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4. Diana Taurasi
There hasn’t been a greater scorer in WNBA history than Diana Taurasi, as she’s the all-time scoring leader in league history. Taurasi is a five-time scoring champion who can hit a shot from just about anywhere on the floor at any time for her team. Only Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain have more career scoring titles than Taurasi. She’s a three-time WNBA champion, a league MVP, and an eight-time All-Star. Taurasi knows how to win and is one of the most clutch players in the league. She’s also a world renowned trash-talker and can jaw with the best of them—even Draymond Green.
5. Lindsey Vonn
Lindsey Vonn is already the most successful woman in alpine skiing history, and she’s still racking up the records. The 32-year-old speed demon, who is the only American woman to win the downhill gold at the Olympics (2010), is currently tied with Swedish skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark for the most World Cup discipline titles by a man or woman (16). Earlier this year, she stated that she wants to race men in her best event—the downhill at Lake Louise, Alberta—once she’s done competing at the 2018 Olympics, and we say, “Why not? Have at it Vonn!”
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6. Monica Abbott
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) star Monica Abbott literally has a “million dollar arm” when it comes to pitching. In 2016, the Scrap Yard Dawgs signed Abbott for her impeccable strikeout stats and have promised to pay her $1,000,000 over the course of six years. She’s so good that we believe that she has what it takes to pitch against the best of the best in the MLB. In fact, science has already proven why many baseball hitters can’t handle softball pitchers. Ever since former U.S. national softball pitcher Jennie Finch struck out some MLB stars on national TV, specialists found that baseball players have a hard time reading the motion and rotation of softball pitches. Since watching Finch strike out male baseball players was so entertaining back then, we nominate Abbott to do it again.
7. Elana Meyers Taylor
Elana Meyers Taylor is an accomplished bobsledder, claiming a silver medal in the Olympics in 2014 as a pilot after taking bronze as a brakeman in 2010. But besides all of her titles, Meyers Taylor is also known for smashing gender barriers in her sport. Up until three years ago, women were only allowed to compete in two-person sled races. But in Sept. 2014, bobsled’s international governing body decided to allow women to compete in four-man races. That winter, Meyers Taylor jumped on the opportunity as she and her husband Nic Taylor joined forces to form a four-man crew. She piloted the sled with her husband as brakeman to a third-place finish at U.S. trials. Meyers Taylor, along with Kaillie Humphries of Canada, became the first women to compete against men on the World Cup circuit that year. But we’d like to see Meyers Taylor racing the men on an even bigger stage, so we’re calling for a “Battle of the Sexes” Olympic edition. Let’s put some medals on the line.
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8. Lexi Thompson
While she’s only 22 years old, American Lexi Thompson has already established herself as one of the best in the sport. Thompson was the youngest-ever winner of an LPGA Tournament in 2011, and she’s already captured nine LPGA wins, including her first major in 2014 at the ANA Inspiration Championship. Along with becoming the second-youngest woman to win a major, Thompson finished second at the 2015 Evian Championship and third at the PGA Championship the same year. We’re sure golf fans would love to see her and fellow young American star Jordan Spieth play a round of 18 holes.
9. Hope Solo
Now that former U.S. national team goalkeeper Hope Solo has healed up from shoulder replacement surgery and is part-bionic, we believe that she has what it takes to block shots from the guys. Solo may have taken a break from competition for the past year, but her stats for the national team are undeniable: She currently holds the American record for most clean sheets with 102 shutouts and she has also earned the most appearances (202), starts (190), and wins (153) of any U.S. goalkeeper in history. One could argue that Solo has one of the best defensive lines in the world to help back her up on those stats, whereas the U.S. men’s national team has been struggling since conception. But if you’ve ever watched Solo’s catlike reflexes while training, you would know that she could hang with the men in a shootout if she wanted to—or at least give them a good verbal roasting.
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If you had a choice, who would you pick to be in the next Battle of the Sexes?