I'm always the first one to gab about multiracial celebrities and actors, because I like knowing that people of mixed race like myself are represented in some way in the media, even if it's only by a select few. It occurred to me recently, though, that I've been forgetting about the professional multiracial female athletes out there — the gold-medal-winning, record-breaking, badass sportswomen, to be more specific — who come from multi-ethnic backgrounds.
I've been a big fan of sports, particularly the game of tennis, since I was a little girl, so I know what it feels like to look up to the big-name athletes, adore their every move, and sleep in their jerseys. I wasn't the first kid to worship fierce female competitors, and I definitely won't be the last. Combine this timeless adoration with the fact that women athletes have gained more visibility in the past few decades than ever before, and you'll realize that female soccer and basketball players, for example, are so much more than "just" athletes nowadays. They're celebrities — perhaps more importantly, though, they're powerful role models.
So although race and ethnicity aren't exactly the hottest topics when it comes to talking about sports, it's worth our attention for a brief moment, because individuals of mixed race in the United States, no matter what age, could always do themselves some good by adding a few more to their list of influential women to keep their eyes on.
Here are seven multiracial female athletes you should know about.
1. Madison Keys
This teenager is making the U.S. proud as she steadily climbs the women's tennis rankings — currently, she's no .19 in the world, the second highest ranking American player. After losing so gracefully at the beginning of this year to Serena Williams in the Australian Open, tennis fans everywhere showered her with newfound adoration.
In response to being questioned about her biracial identity — African-American and white — she says she fully embraces every part of her ethnicity, and she doesn't feel like she has to identify with one over the other. She told the New York Times, "I'm just me. I'm Madison." And we dig it.
2. Sydney Leroux
An Olympic gold medalist and 2015 FIFA World Cup winner, Leroux is a 25-year-old Canadian-American who plays forward for the Western New York Flash. She is proud of her biracial heritage and doesn't hesitate to truthfully speak about her experiences growing up with a white mother and a black father. During a conversation with the Huffington Post, she revealed that she never had any female athlete role models as a kid — let alone multiracial ones — and she hopes she can be an inspiration for biracial children everywhere to pursue their dreams. Her husband Dom Dwyer, the star MLS player, must be proud.
3. Kyla Ross
Remember the Fierce Five, the gymnastics team who won a significant team gold medal for the United States in the 2012 Olympics? One piece of the gang is Kyla Ross, Hawaiian native of African-American, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Filipino, and German descent.
Her mother said she possessed an admirable amount of strength that set her apart from her peers, even as a young girl, and that power certainly shines through her athleticism. Although she wasn't included on the early rosters for the 2015 Gymnastics World Championships, we're expecting lots more magic from her in the future.
4. Jessica Ennis-Hill
She's Jamaican and white, and she's a powerhouse. Look. At. Those. Abs. This 29-year-old is a World and Olympic heptathlon champion and she holds the current Britain national record for the heptathlon. Planning on dominating once again in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, she manages to balance her commitment to sports with family life (she's married with a year-and-a-half old son), as well as fulfill the role of Sky Academy Ambassador, encouraging English students to be creative and active. Rumor has it, though, that she plans to retire in 2017. Fingers crossed she changes her mind.
5. Lori "Lolo" Jones
She caught everyone's eyes in the 2008 Olympics in track and field, and now she competes as a brakewoman for the American national bobsled team. In the 2013 World Championships, her team won a gold medal; not long after, she also appeared in the 2014 Winter Olympics. She was one of the only athletes in the world to do both back-to-back.
Raised by her white mother — her black father suffered from alcoholism and wasn't around — she developed a resilience early on in life, as she lived in poverty. Interestingly enough, she's a (smokin' hot) 33-year-old virgin who doesn't hide the fact that she's holding out for marriage.
6. Jamila Wideman
In 1997, the star point guard basketball player for Stanford appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with her father, renowned black author John Edgar Wideman. But being an athletic talent was just the beginning for Jamila, whose mother is Jewish; after watching her 16-year-old brother face a life sentence in prison for murder, she always knew she would go to law school. She wrapped up her basketball career, then completed her J.D. at NYU School of Law, and even wrote and published a poem on her multiracial identity titled "Black."
7. Airi Miyabe
Only 16 years old, Airi Miyabe is a star volleyball player in Japan who was a key player during Kinkanrai High School's victory at the national high school tournament. Because of this showcase of talent, she has been recruited to Japan's national volleyball team and will participate in upcoming international competitions. Her father is Nigerian and her mother is Japanese, and she proudly stands alongside several other biracial athletes in Japan, most of whom are males. Go girl.