Ten key wins for women from the year that transformed sport in Australia

Ten key wins for women from the year that transformed sport in Australia


With sport around the world on hold, media outlets have been doing their best to keep engagement alive for fans. Curated “Best of” lists have been circling, with headlines like ‘Top 10 sporting moments” and “best matches to re-live” becoming more and more common.

There’s a problem, though. As researchers from Swinburne University of Technology found, women in sport are being sidelined and nearly completely left out of these ‘best of’ lists.

That’s despite women’s sport rapidly growing in popularity over the past few years.


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So we decided to put together our own list featuring some of the most memorable sporting moments in 2019. All these moments just happened to involve women, in a year that transformed women’s sport in Australia.

Ash Barty wins first Grand Slam Title

The moment Ash Barty won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open was so special, it was enough to make any Australian feel proud. The young Indigenous Australian was a picture of graciousness and sheer talent as she powered through to beat 19-year-old Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in the final. It was the first time an Australian woman has won the French Open since 1971, when Evonne Goolagong Cawley took the title.

In her victory speech, Barty humbly thanked her supporters, family and former tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, for paving the way for her to follow.

“It’s amazing how she’s created this path for Indigenous tennis in Australia and I think now it’s becoming more nationwide,” the 23-year-old champion told a packed arena.

Ash Barty takes world number one spot, the first Australian woman in 43 years

In June, Ash Barty became the World No. 1 in tennis after a win at the Birmingham Classic. It’s a title she still holds on to. Barty became the first Australian in 43 years to do so, the last was Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1976.

“You always dream of it as a little kid, but for it to become a reality is incredible, it really is,” Barty said on her new ranking after the tournament.

That Tayla Harris photo

Remember that photo? The one of AFLW player Tayla Harris mid-flight, kicking a football? It ignited a social media storm after 7AFL posted it on social media, only for Harris to be attacked mercilessly by online trolls. Rather than responding to the trolling, 7AFL deleted the photo. In response, Harris proudly posted the photo herself, with the caption: “Here’s a pic of me at work… think about this before your derogatory comments, animals.”

At the time, Harris made some insightful comments, calling out the trolls and saying more needs to be done to control online comments.

“If these people are saying things like this to someone they don’t know on a public platform, what are they saying behind closed doors? And, what are they doing? These people need to be called out. By the AFL, yes, but maybe it needs to go further,” she said.

“Maybe this is the start of domestic violence or maybe it’s the start of abuse. The comments I saw were sexual abuse. It was repulsive and it made me uncomfortable.”

The image has since been shared hundreds of thousands of times, and Harris has been immortalised in bronze in a statue that’s featured at Melbourne’s Federation Square.  

Sam Kerr makes World Cup history

During a Matildas 4-1 victory over Jamaica in their third game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Sam Kerr made history, becoming the first Australian, male or female, to score a World Cup hat-trick. Kerr netted all four of Australia’s goals against Jamaica, ensuring the team progressed to the knock-out stages of the world cup.

“It’s history, as an Australian player at a World Cup to do what she’s done,” coach Ante Milicic said at the time. “All the accolades must go to Sam but also the service she got throughout the game from the rest of the team.”

AFLW grand final breaks a new record with more than 53,000 attending Adelaide Oval

53, 034 spectators descended on Adelaide oval to watch the Adelaide Crows defeat Carlton at the 2019 AFLW grand final in March. The figure broke a new record for a domestic women’s sport game in Australia and significantly eclipsed the previous AFLW attendance record of 41, 975 at the 2018 final.

The record-breaking crowd was bigger than every NRL game in 2018 besides the grand final, a significant feat for any sporting competition only in its third year.

Sally Fitzgibbons wins Rio Pro in Brazil, becoming World No. 1

Sally Fitzgibbons shone a spotlight on Australian surfing after winning the World Surf League’s Rio Pro in Brazil in June. She briefly took the title of World No.1 (from then reigning world champion, Steph Gilmore). The win was an epic fight against current world champion Carissa Moore, from the US.

Australia wins women’s 4×200 freestyle gold & smashes 10-year world record

Australia’s 4x200m freestyle relay team won gold at the FINA World Swimming Chamopionships in South Korea. They broke a 10-year world record and became the first team to win the 4x200m relay world title for Australia. The race itself was thrilling, with Australia dropping back into second position for much of the second and third leg. Emma McKeon swam a brilliant anchor leg, sealing victory in the final metres.

Hannah Green claims first major with LPGA Championship victory

In June, Hannah Green stunned the golfing world on Sunday after winning her first major title at the Women’s PGA Championship in Minneapolis. The win was Green’s first victory on the LPGA tour and it just happened to be the first time she contested a major – that’s a pretty remarkable achievement. The win saw the 22-year-old become just the third Australian woman to ever win a major golfing title.

Ellyse Perry reaches 1000 runs and 100 wickets in T20 internationals

In the second T20 of the Ashes in July, Ellyse Perry set a remarkable record, becoming the first cricket player, male or female, to score 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in T20 international cricket.

16-year-old Mary Fowler named in Matildas World Cup squad

The now 17-year-old young gun Mary Fowler was named in the Matildas World Cup Squad by coach Ante Milicic in May. She was the youngest player selected for the tournament, and although she didn’t make it onto the field, she secured her place as one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-comers. More recently, she’s become the latest Matildas player to head to Europe after signing a deal with French club Montpellier.


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