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12 Women Who Absolutely Killed The Sports Game In 2015

We’ll remember 2015 as the year women broke through.

When we look back on 2015, there's a good chance we'll remember it as a groundbreaking year for women in sports. Not only were women killing it on the pitch, on the court, in the pool and in the octagon, but also on the sidelines and in the broadcast booth. Everywhere, it seemed, women were making inroads in sports.

These powerful women made their names first and foremost as athletes and top athletic minds, but they also helped break down a sports culture that all too often still sees women as inferior athletes or objects to be gawked at. Hopefully along the way, they also inspired young women around the country to believe in themselves a bit more, and changed some minds, too. 

  • Holly Holm Won The One Match No One Thought She Could Win
    <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/topic/holly-holm">Holly Holm</a> burst&nbsp;onto&nbsp;national&nbsp;sports scene in a big w
    PAUL CROCK via Getty Images
    Holly Holm burst onto national sports scene in a big way in 2015 when she knocked Ronda Rousey out in their November match, shocking the world and earning herself a bantamweight title.

    Holm completely dominated UFC's biggest star throughout the match and brought her record to 10-0. In 2016, expect a much-anticipated rematch.
  • Becky Hammon Coached The Spurs To The NBA Summer League Title
    In 2015, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich gave former WNBA player Becky Hammon an opportunity, asking her to be the head coach of the organization's Summer League team.

    Hammon took full advantage -- not only becoming the first woman to serve as a head coach of an NBA Summer League team, but also leading the Spurs to the Summer League title.
  • Ronda Rousey Became One Of The Most Famous Faces In Sports
    Despite ending her year with a defeat to Holly Holm, Ronda Rousey undoubtedly took UFC's popularity to another level this year.

    Already a dominant force in the ring, Rousey also became a cultural icon, appearing in movies like "Entourage," "Furious 7" as well as "WrestleMania." Even with her loss to Holm, Rousey is still the biggest name in the sport of mixed martial arts, and a big reason the UFC is what it has become.
  • Katie Ledecky Broke A Swimming Record Without Meaning To
    If you forgot about Katie Ledecky winning a gold medal as a 15-year-old in the 2012 Olympics, she made sure to reintroduce herself in a big way in 2015.

    Now 18, Ledecky won five gold medals in the FINA World Championships and casually broke a world record for the women's 1,500-meter freestyle in August. Her coach had told her to take the first three-fifths of the race easy.
  • A 17-Year-Old French Ball Player Made MLB History
    French baseball player Melissa Mayeux made history in June when she became the first female to be added to MLB's international registration list, which made her eligible to be signed by an MLB team.

    Mayeux, who recently turned 17, is the shortstop on France's U-18 junior team. Although, like many other prospects, the possibility of her making it to the majors is slim, her talent is being recognized by the historic boys' club that is Major League Baseball.
  • Jessica Mendoza Broke Barriers In The Broadcast Booth
    Baseball broadcaster Jessica Mendoza made history on a few occasions in 2015. She became the first woman MLB broadcaster in ESPN's history in August and then became the first woman to call a nationally televised playoff game in October.

    Despite some hateful, sexist comments, Mendoza continued to call the game beautifully and will serve the same role for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball in 2016.
  • Elena Delle Donne Mastered The Free Throw And Dominated The WNBA
    The Chicago Sky wing player and 2015 WNBA MVP led the league in scoring at 23.4 points per game and was third in rebounding at 8.4 per game. But to really do Delle Donne's year justice, you have to dig a little deeper.

    Delle Donne hit 95 percent of her free throws for the season, more than anyone in the NBA -- yes, the men's league -- and registered a higher player efficiency rating than any of her male peers as well. Quite a feat.
  • Carli Lloyd Put On Perhaps The Best World Cup Performance Ever
    Lloyd stepped up big time for the U.S. Women's National Team during the 2015 World Cup, scoring six goals in seven matches -- an effort for which she was crowned the tournament's best player and awarded the Golden Ball.
     
    But more than anything else, people will remember Lloyd's astonishing hat trick in the final against Japan, which she had completed just 16 minutes into the game. Some people called it the greatest World Cup performance ever, man or woman. The U.S. eventually won the game 5-2.
  • Justine Siegal Became The First Woman Coach In MLB History
    In September, Justine Siegal became the <a href="http://m.mlb.com/news/article/152329548/justine-siegal-first-female-coach-in
    In September, Justine Siegal became the first woman coach in MLB history when she was given the position of guest instructor for the Oakland A's instructional league.

    Siegal's broken through barriers before. She also was the first woman ever to throw batting practice to a team in 2011.
  • ... And Jen Welter Became The First In NFL History
    Jen Welter had a long career in football before 2015, but this year she added to her legacy when she became the first woman to serve as a coach for an NFL team this offseason.

    Arizona Cardinals' Bruce Arians decided to take Welter on as a coaching intern to work with the linebackers on the team. Although the internship ended before the start of the season, Welter undoubtedly opened some doors for other women to take on larger coaching roles in the league.
  • Abby Wambach Retired As International Soccer's Greatest Goal Scorer
    Abby Wambach is considered to be the greatest U.S. Women's Soccer player of all time. Over the course of her international career, she scored 184 total goals -- a record for both men's and women's soccer.

    After helping the USWNT win the World Cup, Wambach played her final game ever in December. It goes without saying that she was given a hero's farewell.
  • But Really, We All Know This Was Serena's Year
    Last, but certainly not least.

    When it comes to sports, 2015 was the year of Serena. Williams dominated the women's tennis circuit, winning three of the four calendar grand slams.

    The greatest women's tennis player of all time capped off her magical season by winning Sports Illustrated's 2015 Sportsperson of the Year for her accomplishments. At the ceremony, she took on her critics. 

    I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them -- I look stronger,” she said. “I’ve had people look past me because the color of my skin, I’ve had people overlook me because I was a woman, I’ve had critics say I [would] never win another Grand Slam when I was only at number seven -- and here I stand today with 21 Grand Slam titles, and I’m still going.”

 

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