5 biggest women’s sporting events

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Women's sport has been growing in popularity for a long time now and here are five reasons that have helped turn the spotlight.

Serena Williams after winning Wimbledon in 2018

It’s been a landmark year for women’s sport with another red-letter day on the horizon as Wembley gets set to play host to the final of the Women’s European Championships on Sunday.

A capacity crowd of 87,000 is expected at the national stadium to see if hosts England can win their first major tournament at the expense of eight-time European champions Germany.

It will be the best-attended Euros final for men or women of all-time, according to Uefa, and will be a fitting way to conclude a tournament which has flown the flag brilliantly for women’s sport.

Euro 2022 has been an historic success but which other events have done as good a job shining the spotlight on women’s sport?

Women’s World Cup

The success of the European Championships has followed on brilliantly behind the increasingly popular Women’s World Cup.

The global tournament has more often than not been regarded as a success since its debut in 1991 with over 90,000 attending the USA’s penalty shootout win over China in 1999.

The success of the Stars and Stripes, who are four-time world champions, has undoubtedly helped women’s football grow in popularity, particularly in such a huge market like the United States and it continues to go from strength to strength.

The 2019 edition of the tournament was watched by a combined TV audience of 1.12 billion with the average live audience doubling from the 2015 edition.

Olympic Gymnastics

The Olympic Games has been pivotal in providing a platform for female athletes to compete alongside their male counterparts, and in some cases they have surpassed them in popularity.

This is no more evident than in gymnastics, which has consistently ranked as the most watched Olympic sport since the 1996 Games.

With powerhouse nations China, Russia and the United States all strong competitors, that’s helped to attract plenty of eyeballs to the sport.

With so much attention on the event, it’s no wonder gymnastics has created several female sporting icons, including Olga Korbut, Nadia Comaneci and Simone Biles.

Solheim Cup

The theme of US TV viewership driving popularity in women’s sport is present again in the Solheim Cup; the female equivalent of the Ryder Cup.

The biennial competition, which first began in 1990, pits the best golfers from the United States and Europe against one another and has witnessed some thrilling battles in recent years.

The last two editions have been captivating viewing with Europe edging out the States and those kinds of battles, coupled with the improving quality of the women’s tour, which keeps itself in the spotlight with five majors per year, can only be good for the sport.

Women’s Wimbledon Final

Women’s tennis is going through a transitional phase as the current face of the sport, Serena Williams, winds down her career and the search for the next star is well underway.

British tennis fans already have their next icon in Emma Raducanu, who garnered a home TV audience of over nine million for her US Open title success in 2021.

Raducanu couldn’t repeat that triumph on home turf at Wimbledon, which has provided a big platform for female athletes to shine since the 19th century.

The All England Club women’s decider has helped to create plenty of legends, including the likes of Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf, who lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish nine and seven times respectively.

Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano

The popularity of women’s combat sports has exploded in the last decade, with female fighters going from support acts to main eventers in the blink of an eye.

Just this year, Ireland’s Katie Taylor sold out one of boxing’s spiritual homes, Madison Square Garden, for her bout with Amanda Serrano.

Taylor has done wonders to boost the popularity of women’s boxing on this side of the Atlantic, while the United States have found their own exceptionally talented heroine in Claressa Shields.

In MMA, having initially been reluctant to create a women’s division, UFC has seen a rapid rise in the popularity of female fighters in the decade they’ve been allowed to compete.

The division has created household names, such as Ronda Rousey, while this weekend will see the return of arguably the greatest-ever female fighter when Amanda Nunes challenges Julianna Pena for the bantamweight title in UFC 277’s main event.

Chris is broadcast and written journalist with a wealth of experience, across a number of different sports. As well covering football on the radio, he is a regular online and print contributor on the likes of rugby union, American Football and Formula One.
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