Ten defining British women’s sport moments of the decade

From Jess Ennis’ 2012 heptathlon gold to Dina’s Doha exploits, Helen Housby’s match-winning goal on the Gold Coast to Maddie Hinch’s heroics in Rio – it’s been quite the decade for Britain’s female sporting superstars.
England lift the World Cup in 2017England lift the World Cup in 2017
England lift the World Cup in 2017

The 2010s will go down as a decade where the landscape of women’s sport changed like never before and below we took a look at ten of the most defining moments.

The one shot that changed netball forever

Helen Housby will never score another goal that will mean more for her sport.

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Her last-minute winner against Australia in the 2018 Commonwealth Games netball final not only clinched a historic first gold for England, but it changed the face of the sport forever.

Since that moment, netball in the UK has surged to new heights of popularity, with 130,700 adult women taking up netball off the back of that single game.

Sky Sports’ netball viewing figures more than doubled, the national team signed sponsorship deals with Vitality and Nike and thousands of tickets were sold for the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool.

Long overdue, but Housby’s winner finally granted netball the respect it has always deserved.

GB women win first hockey gold in Rio

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But before Housby there was Hinch, the hockey goalkeeper whose penalty shootout heroics won Great Britain women their first-ever Olympic gold medal.

After a tense final, Team GB and the Netherlands drew 3-3. Without Hinch in the shootout, the gold medal may have never been theirs, the goalkeeper keeping out all four Netherlands attempts to secure the 2-0 win.

Seen by 9.7 million people on the BBC, hockey was never to be the same again. Most of the Olympic gold-medal team have now retired, but that didn’t stop more than 10,000 people attending Twickenham Stoop to see the sport in action.

Suzann Pettersen wins the Solheim Cup for Europe

Catriona Matthew’s decision to select Pettersen as her final captain’s pick for the 2019 Solheim Cup was a controversial one.

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The 38-year-old Norwegian may have won 15 LPGA titles and two major championships, but she had barely played in two years prior to Gleneagles, primarily due to giving birth.

But turns out a gamble can pay off. Her birdie on the final hole helped Team Europe come from behind to defeat Team USA, 14 ½ to 13 ½, in one of the most memorable Solheim Cups in recent history.

Jess Ennis spearheads Britain’s finest hour

Ask any sports fan to recall their favourite moments of the decade and Super Saturday is almost guaranteed to be mentioned.

Three athletes gave us the greatest single hour – and perhaps the greatest-ever night, in the long history of British athletics – and one of them was Jessica Ennis.

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In one of the iconic moments of the London Games, Ennis, the poster girl of 2020, fulfilled her destiny by being crowned Olympic heptathlon champion after a series of personal bests carried her to gold.

From then on, the word heptathlon was synonymous with the name Ennis and she will forever be remembered for that spectacular night on home soil.

Nicola Adams wins first women’s Olympic boxing gold

Nicola Adams is a trailblazer in every sense of the word.

In 2012, women’s boxing made its long-awaited Olympic debut and it was none other than England’s very own Nicola Adams who defeated three-time world champion Ren Cancan to win the flyweight title in front of a home crowd.

Being not only the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title, but also the first to defend it four years later means Adams leaves a legacy of inspiration.

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The nation fell in love with an athlete who wasn’t afraid to fight for what she believed in, whether that be in the boxing ring or in her work outside, particularly in campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights.

Everyone who has heard of her will have been moved by her reluctant decision to retire from boxing in November, but thankful to know that her legacy will continue to live on.

The first thrilling World Cup final at Lord’s

England men’s cricket team made history when they won their first-ever World Cup in remarkable fashion at Lord’s back in July, yet unbeknownst to some it is a feat the women had already achieved.

It is the first time that both England men and women have reigned as world champions at the same time, but the women’s nine-run victory over India in the summer of 2017 was their fifth World Cup win.

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That didn’t mean it was any less spectacular – in fact, it was more so with Heather Knight lifting the trophy in front of a sell-out crowd at Lord’s – proving women’s cricket belongs in the mainstream.

Dina delivers in Doha

If you don’t know the name Dina Asher-Smith by now then you must have been living under a rock. The 23-year-old King’s College graduate became the first British woman to win a major global sprint title as she stormed to victory in 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Doha in October.

She already had plenty of accolades to her name, having won three gold medals at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, but her performance in Doha will have by far the greater impact.

Her victory means she is also the first Briton to win a world or Olympic sprint title since Linford Christie at Stuttgart 1993. If she can repeat her feat in Tokyo, she may just be the athlete of a generation.

Katarina Johnson-Thompson finally gets her golden moment

Dina wasn’t the only one to make history in Doha.

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After years of falling short, Katarina Johnson-Thompson ended her wait for her first global outdoor title by powering to heptathlon gold at the World Championships in Doha, beating 2017 champion Nafissatou Thiam with a British record 6,981 points.

Touted as a star of the discipline since winning the World Youth Championships a decade ago, Johnson-Thompson’s Doha moment may just be one of the most defining of them all.

There were setbacks and there was heartache, but KJT’s story proves anything is possible if you’re willing to work hard for it.

Lionesses make history at Wembley

If you’re looking for proof that the appetite for women’s sport has transformed, watching the Lionesses in 2019 is your answer.

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Their decade may not have ended in silverware, but the Lionesses are a team who have changed the landscape for women in their sport like no other.

First, 11.7m viewers tuned in to their World Cup semi-final in the USA in France before over 77,000 fans packed out Wembley to see them take on Germany in November.

They didn’t manage to end their tournament semi-final jinx, but the Wembley crowd proved they succeeded in achieving their wider goal: inspiring the nation.

Sherrock becomes the talk of Ally Pally

As the success of women in sport continues to skyrocket, we saw breakthroughs right up until the twilight hour of the decade – the last being the fairytale of Fallon Sherrock.

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Sherrock made history in December by beating Ted Evetts to become the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Darts Championship, before then defeating world number 11 Mensur Suljovic and eventually losing to world number 22 Chris Dobey in the third round.

Women at the Ally Pally is nothing new, Sherrock being the fifth female to play there in the competition’s history - but one of them had to win for any real progress to be made.

Listen back to the roars of the crowd when Sherrock planted the winning bullseye in round two – women in darts are more than welcomed, and now they’re here to stay.