(estimated 5 minute read time)
Women’s sports in England have been on a rapid rise the last few years, with athletes consistently achieving in various disciplines. From football to netball, rugby, cricket and golf, England have had resounding success this year. 2023 has been extraordinary for women’s sports and England have witnessed a surge of female talent that have inspired the nation.
Following the Lionesses Euros 2022 win, they came into 2023 with a goal to do better and become world champions. Their unfortunate defeat to Spain didn’t overshadow the fact it was the first World Cup final for the England’s Women’s team and only the second time any England team has reached a World Cup final since 1966. As well as this, the Final game was watched by an average of 13.3 million people, a UK record for a women’s football match and one of the biggest audiences of the year so far.
The Red Roses, England’s Women’s rugby team, have had an outstanding year. They triumphed in the Six Nations Championship, cementing their status as a global powerhouse. The growth of women’s rugby across England, both in terms of participation and fan engagement, has been truly remarkable, setting the stage for a promising future.
Women’s cricket in England has seen remarkable success this year. Heading into this summer’s Ashes, Australia had dominated the sport for much of the last two decades. They held the urn, both World Cup’s and the Commonwealth Games. With record-breaking crowds on their side, England fought back in the Ashes after Australia took at 6-0 lead having won the Test. Despite England winning both the ODI and T20 elements of the series, the result was ultimately a draw, meaning Australia retained the Ashes.
In the world of netball, England’s Roses have been blossoming with talent. The World Cup saw them beat Australia in the group stages 56-55, making it only the second time the Roses have won against the Diamonds since their Commonwealth Games victory in 2018. England were on track to triumph after winning all eight of their group stage games and the semi-final against New Zealand, however were defeated at the last hurdle and lost to Australia in the final. The talent the players showed throughout the tournament was incredible with Helen Housby dominating the competition and taking home awards for Player of the Tournament and Best Attack Player.
The recent Solheim Cup, resulted in a tie but English participants, Charley Hull and Georgia Hall, gained a couple of wins. Georgia Hall won the Friday Fourball 1 up with Ireland’s Leona Maguire against USA’s Lexi Thompson and Lilia Vu. Charley Hull was paired up, again, with Leona Maguire for the Saturday Fourball and won 4 & 3 against Nelly Korda and Ally Ewing.
Charley Hull has had a fantastic year, competing and consistently performing well in prestigious tournaments. Her exceptional skills led her to achieve the remarkable feat of being runner-up at both the Women’s British Open and US Women’s Open.
England’s women boxers have been punching their way to glory in 2023. Natasha Jonas, the first British female boxer to qualify for the Olympics, continued to prove her status. In July, Jonas won her fourth world title, beating Kandi Wyatt for the vacant IBF welterweight strap after the referee halted the bout in the eighth round. Natasha, often referred to as Miss GB, is now a two-weight world champion and has won 14 of her 17 professional fights as well as being WBC, WBO and IBF light-middleweight champion.
Fans at the AO arena in Manchester had an exhilarating evening on the 1st July as the undercard for Jonas v Wyatt saw England’s Savannah Marshall defeat Franchon Crews-Dezurn. Marshall dominated her American opponent to be declared the winner, bringing her record to 13-1 and becoming undisputed super-middleweight champion of the world. The Silent Assassin is showing no signs of slowing down after signing a multi-year deal with MMA organisation, PFL in August. Savannah plans to defend her boxing titles against WBC mandatory challenger, Shadasia Green and will be sure to challenge her rival, Claressa Shields, whether that be in the ring or cage.
Hollie Doyle has taken women’s flat racing by storm, winning Falmouth Stakes and King’s Stand Stakes and being the first female jockey to do so in both. She was also part of the winning team in the Shergar Cup team event for the second time out of the three she’s competed in. Hollie took home the Silver Saddle award this year for gaining the most points in the event.
In August, the women’s GB team had great success at the 2023 World Athletics Championships securing multiple podiums. Keely Hodgkinson finished second in the 800m and the relay events also showcased incredible teamwork and speed with both the 100m and 400m relay teams winning bronze medals and attaining season bests. However, it was in the heptathlon where Katarina Johnson-Thompson shone, securing the gold for Team GB.
This year has been an exceptional one for women’s sports in England. Female athletes have demonstrated unparalleled talent, dedication and resilience. Their achievements have not only brought glory to England but have also shattered stereotypes and inspired countless young individuals across the nation to pursue their sporting dreams. The future of women’s sport in England looks promising as the excitement for next year’s events continues to build.
With events like the Women’s Six Nations to look forward to, 2024 is set to be another unforgettable year for England’s women.