HomeCricket2023 in women’s sports: From Australia’s dominance and Spain’s crowning moment to...

2023 in women’s sports: From Australia’s dominance and Spain’s crowning moment to cricket’s historic inclusion in the Olympics


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2023 was a remarkable year for women’s sports. From momentous occassions on the field to massive stides off it, the year brought with it big highs and lows for women in the sports ecosystem. With a Deloitte study predicting that in 2024, for the first time ever, women’s elite sports will generate a revenue that surpasses one billion dollars — 300% higher than their 2021 prediction, the future of the women’s vertical seems headed upwards.

As we gear up for 2024, here’s a look back at some of the most important developments in women’s sports from 2023.

– Australia beat South Africa to win the Women’s T20 World Cup: Meg Lanning-led Australia won its sixth and third consecutive title after beating the host South Africa in the final by 19 runs. It would be the last ICC title Lanning, the most decorated in world cricket, would lift with this Australian side given that she stunned the world with a shock retirement announcement in November.

– India wins inaugural Women’s U-19 T20 World Cup: India won its maiden ICC title in women’s cricket as a bunch of sprightly and talented teenagers lifted the inaugural U-19 World Cup with an emphatic seven-wicket victory over England. The Shafali Verma-led India U-19 squad managed to do what their seniors could not do by clearing the final hurdle in a global event. India first bundled out England for 68 in 17.1 overs and then returned to knock off the paltry target in 14 overs to lift the coveted trophy.

– Coco Gauff wins US Open: Gauff winning the US Open represented the first time an American teenager had won the event in over two decades, with the last being when tennis legend Serena Williams took the title in 1999. The historic match broke all kinds of records with 3.4 million people watching on broadcaster ESPN, over a million more than the men’s final, where Novak Djokovic took his 24th Grand Slam singles title and set a modern Grand Slam record, which drew 2.3 million viewers.

– Spain beat England to win maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup, Rubiales fiasco unfolds: Spain beat England 1-0 to become latest country to win the coveted global tournament. However, the focus shifted completely from the Las Rojas’ momentous achievement when Spanish Federation chief Luis Rubiales forcibly kissed Jenni Hermoso on the lips. The episode snowballed into a larger investigation into his conduct. This came after allegations of mental harassment levelled against coach Jorge Vilda. Vilda was sacked and Rubiales was eventually banned from all football-related activities for three years by FIFA. 1,977,824 fans watched the showcase in person, making it the most attended tournament in the history of the Women’s World Cup, topping the previous best of 1,353,506 set in Canada in 2015. When Australia played England in the semifinals in Sydney, it was in front of a sold-out home crowd of 75,784 fans.’

– Sarina Wiegman speaks for the Spanish women’s team at UEFA awards: Months before any concrete investigation or action was initiated against Rubiales, England women’s football team head coach Sarina Wiegman won the UEFA Women’s Coach of the Year award and dedicated her award to the World Cup-winning Spanish women’s national football team at The Grimaldi Forum in the Principality of Monaco. “We all know the issues around the Spanish team, and it really hurts me as a coach, as a mother of two daughters, as a wife and as a human being,” Wiegman said after receiving her award. “This team deserves to be celebrated and deserves to be listened to, and I am going to give them again a big applause and I hope you would join me,” said Wiegman addressing the audience at the Grimaldi Forum.

– NCAA game becomes most attended game ever – Drawing over 92,000 fans, five-time NCAA women’s volleyball champions Nebraska dominated Omaha 3-0 in front of what has been described as the largest crowd to ever witness a women’s sporting event in history. The world record broke the previous number of 91,648 that was set in Spain in 2022, when FC Barcelona played Wolfsburg in a Champions League match. It also shattered the previous attendance record in the United States that had not been contested since 1999 when Team USA and People’s Republic of China went head-to-head at the Women’s World Cup in Pasadena, California.

– Transfer of the year – Hayes to USWNT: The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the appointed of Emma Hayes as the 10th full-time head coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history. Hayes, 47, the long-time head coach for Chelsea FC, one of the most successful women’s teams in Europe, started her coaching career in the United States at the dawn of the millennium and more than two decades later will take the helm of the USWNT. A statement from U.S. Soccer says Hayes will become the highest paid women’s football coach in the world. 

– Women’s Football in England gets a new body: Women’s football in England will be run by an independent organization rather than the Football Association from next year in a move aimed at setting new standards in the game. Clubs in the Women’s Super League and the second-tier Women’s Championship will operate under NewCo, whose first chief executive will be Nikki Doucet — a former investment banker and Nike executive.

– Sheetal Devi’s rise to the top: Armless archer Sheetal Devi made headlines in October when she shot her way to three medals at the Asian Para Games. The 16-year-old, who hails from Kishtwar, Jammu and Kashmir, was born with phocomelia, a disorder causing underdeveloped limbs. Without arms, she learned to use a bow and arrow using her feet and started training full-time in archery only two years ago. Videos of her mounting the bow and using her right foot and mouth to steady the equipment before shooting perfect 10s went viral. From celebrities to the political brass, praise flooded in for the resilience and talent of the young girl, who eventually went on to finish the year as the No. 1 archer in open compound.

Simone Biles returns to competiting: Simone Biles announced her comeback in June, then went on to win her eighth individual all-around at the U.S. Championships in August before a sweeping return to the world stage in Antwerp in October, claiming a sixth World Championship title in the all-around, while adding team, floor exercise and balance beam golds, too. She now has 30 world medals in total – 23 of them gold – and appears to be moving full steam ahead toward the Olympic Summer Games Paris 2024.

– Wrestlers take on Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh: The biggest controversy of the year in the Indian context, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has had a volatile 2023. In January, the WFI chief, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, was alleged to have sexually harassed several women wrestlers, including a minor, sparking protests by multiple leading wrestlers in the country. The list included Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya, who gathered at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding Singh’s resignation and the dissolution of the WFI. Fresh WFI elections were held in December which saw Brij Bushan-backed candidate Sanjay Singh elected as the new president. The protests continued; Sakshi announced her retirement while Bajrang returned his Padma Shri Award.

– India women rule red ball cricket: The Indian women’s cricket played Test cricket after more than 800 days, taking on England and Australia in quick succession. It marked Harmanpreet Kaur’s debut as Test captain. India beat England by 347 runs, its first victory against the opponent in the format on home soil and the biggest win in the history of the women’s game in terms of runs. India followed that up with an eight-wicket win over Australia.

– Uncapped players dominate WPL season 2 auction: Uncapped Indian players Kashvee Gautam and Vrinda Dinesh laughed their way to the bank at the auction for the second season of the Women’s Premier League walked away with top honours at the WPL auction in Mumbai, attracting bids of INR 2 crore (Gujarat Giants) and INR 1.3 crore (UP Warriorz) respectively.

– Cricket makes it to the Olympics: Cricket was a part of the 1900 Olympics in Paris with only two teams – one from Great Britain and one from France – competing for medals. In this year’s International Olympic Committee (IOC), cricket was formaly accepted into the Olympic roster alongside baseball-softball, flag football, lacrosse and squash and will be played in the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.

– LA’s ‘Ace’ legacy: The Las Vegas Aces won its second consecutive WNBA title after beating the New York Liberty 70-69 in Game 4 of the Finals. A’ja Wilson produced 24 points and 16 rebounds to help the Aces recover from a 12-point deficit in Brooklyn and become the first team in more than two decades to repeat as champions.

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