2023 wish list: Top women’s sports storylines to follow in the new year

2023 wish list: Top women’s sports storylines to follow in the new year

The Mercury will visit the Los Angeles Sparks for their season opener on May 19 before hosting the Chicago Sky in their home opener on May 21.

The countdown is on to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, July 20-Aug. 20, where the U.S. Women’s National Team will look to defend their 2019 title at the tournament cohosted by Australia and New Zealand. The four-time World Cup champs also have their sights set on a historic three-peat, after taking the title in 2015 and 2019. The U.S. women could become the first team in either the women’s or men’s game to win three successive World Cups.

We’re looking forward to seeing more of this new-look USWNT in the new year, including next month in New Zealand, where they’ll play a two-game series (Jan. 17 and 20) against the co-host nation. The U.S. women kick off their title defense Friday, July 21, with their first World Cup Group E match vs. tournament newcomer Vietnam.

The 27-year-old Shiffrin, who’s won six races this season and is on a four-win streak, could tie Vonn’s record as early as next week in Zagreb, Croatia, which will host slalom races on Jan. 4 and 5. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has four previous slalom victories at Zagreb and finished second there in 2020 and 2022.

The ultimate women’s team golf event heads to an intriguing new venue, Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia, Spain. The club played host to the men’s Volvo World Match Play Championship three times from 2009-2012 and will serve as the biennial event’s backdrop for its 18th edition. The European squad, winners of the last two matches at Inverness Club in Ohio (2021) and Gleneagles in Scotland (2019), will be captained by Norway’s two-time major winner Suzann Pettersen, who boasts an 18-12-6 record overall in nine Solheim Cup appearances. The 15-time LPGA winner is known for her mic-drop moment at the 2019 matches, where she holed the winning putt for the Europeans after being away from the game on maternity leave for nearly 20 months prior to the event.

For the Americans, who have won the cup 10 times in the matches’ history, they’ll look to win the cup for the first time since 2017 and the first time on foreign soil since 2015 in Germany. Stacy Lewis, a four-time U.S. Solheim Cup team member (5-10-1 overall record), will serve as captain of the American squad, which perhaps for the first time could be considered the underdogs. Currently, there are six Americans in the top 30 of the Rolex Rankings compared to seven European players. The calendar date – set for Sept. 18-24 – should give the matches an added boost, too, as they fall one week before the men’s Ryder Cup in Rome.

The South Carolina women’s basketball team hasn’t missed a beat since , blazing through six post-season games including a 64-49 win over UConn in the tournament final. And the Gamecocks have kicked off the 2022-23 season with a 12-game win streak, maintaining their hold of the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll for 27 consecutive weeks.

The Gamecocks reached a milestone in the process, with their 27-week streak marking the fifth-longest run of all time. UConn holds the record for the longest streak at 51 weeks, dating from Feb. 18, 2008, to Dec. 10, 2010. Louisiana Tech has the second longest at 36 weeks, and the Huskies also hold the third and fourth spots on the list, with 34- and 30-week runs at No. 1. South. Carolina started last season at No. 1 and hasn’t relinquished the ranking since. With more than eight weeks left in the regular season, the Gamecocks are on track to keep climbing the all-time list.

To celebrate, the organization has unveiled a season-long campaign that will pay tribute to the game’s legends as well as its current stars — but through a lens focused on the future. Called “WTA 50: Just Starting,” the campaign will highlight not only what can be done to improve the sporting landscape for women around the world, but also how the WTA can “effectively champion equality and inclusivity for all.” Cheers to the next 50 years!

Remembering History: Janet Guthrie races into motorsports history with celebrated 1977 Indy 500, NASCAR season

Legge’s return also ensures at least one female driver will be in the field this year’s field, which was absent of women in 2022 for the second time in three years. The 2020 Indy 500 was the first contest without at least one woman in the field since 1999. Legge, whose team recently finished fourth in class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, is one of nine women to have raced in the Indy 500, which is set for May 28 on NBC.

Born in Iowa City, Iowa, in 1938, Guthrie found the “need for speed” as a teenager growing up in Miami, Florida, where her family moved when she was 3. Both of her parents were pilots, and Guthrie’s father taught her how to fly as a teenager. She earned pilot’s license at 17, but gender barriers in the late 1950s prevented her from becoming a commercial airline pilot. That prompted her to head to the University of Michigan, where she graduated in 1960 with a degree in physics.

Guthrie began her career as an aerospace engineer with Republic Aviation in Farmingdale, N.Y., where she worked on programs that were precursors to Project Apollo. In 1964, she made it through the first round of eliminations for NASA’s first scientist-astronauts program, but when she didn’t advance any further, Guthrie turned her attention to auto racing.

She purchased a Jaguar XK 120 coupe – and a $45 station wagon to tow it – and she learned to build her own engines and do her own body work. Guthrie might have remained relatively unknown had she not caught the attention of race car designed Rolla Vollstedt, considered one of the most influential car designers of the 20th century. Intrigued by the aerospace-engineer-turned-racing-driver, Vollstedt asked Guthrie to test a car he designed for the 1976 Indy 500.

“Racing needed a woman at Indy, and I needed a driver,” Rolla said via Reed (College) Magazine. “That’s one of the reasons I went after a woman who would call attention to the team.”

“I had no house, only a used-up race car, no money, no jewelry, no husband,” Guthrie remembered. “Then the phone rings and a man I had never heard of asks me if I want to take a test in an Indy car.”

She took the risk, and it paid off: The team didn’t qualify for Indianapolis on that first try, but they did in 1977.

That 1977 season, officially her rookie year on the NASCAR Winston Cup, unfolded with a series for firsts for Guthrie, who turned 39 in March of that year. Her first race was none other than the Daytona 500, where she became the first woman to compete in the iconic event. She finished 12th when her car’s engine blew two cylinders with 10 laps to go, but her performance still earned her top rookie honors.

Guthrie raced in 19 Winston Cup races in the 30-race season, successfully qualifying for all 19. She qualified three times in the top 10 and recorded four top-10 finishes. She had five races under her belt before switching her attention to the Indy 500.

“… Established drivers complained loudly, publicly, and at length. ‘Women don’t have the strength, women don’t have the endurance, women don’t have the emotional stability, women are going to endanger our lives.’

“The records of women in European auto racing, stretching back to the nineteenth century, and those of American women sports car racers might as well not have existed, for all the roundy-round boys cared. My own thirteen years of experience on the road-racing circuits, my Two-Liter Prototype class win at the Sebring 12-Hour, my North Atlantic Road Racing Championship seemed to count for nothing in the world of oval-track racing. Tradition was all, and tradition said that women, peanuts and the color green were not allowed.”

But Guthrie advanced through the qualifying against 85 teams to earn her spot in the field of 30. She set fastest time of day on the opening day of practice and set fastest time of any driver over the second weekend of qualifying as well. She finished 39th in the first Indy 500 start, ultimately dropping out when her engine failed about 10 laps in. The following year, however, Guthrie cracked the top 10, finishing ninth.

She returned to the Winston Cup circuit, and six races later she recorded her first top-10 finish in the series, placing 10th at the Champion Spark Plug 400 in Michigan on Aug. 22. Guthrie followed up with a career-best sixth-place finish and top rookie honors in the Volunteer 400 at Bristol (Tennessee) on Aug. 28. She notched two more top 10s before season’s end – finishing ninth at the NAPA National 500 in Charlotte (N.C.) on Oct. 9 and ninth at the American 500 in Rockingham, N.C., on Oct. 26.

Guthrie’s historic season culminated with another first at the Los Angeles Times 500 in Ontario, California, on Nov. 20. She led for five laps under caution (Laps 43-47), marking the first time a woman led laps in NASCAR. It was a feat that would not be matched again in the Cup until Danica Patrick at the 2013 Daytona 500. Guthrie’s engine failed 25 laps before the finish — while she was still on the lead lap — and she finished seventh.

Guthrie’s career ended after the 1980 season, when she was unable to secure any corporate sponsorship. But her legacy lives on, and Guthrie’s helmet and driver’s suit are in the Smithsonian Institution. She was one of the first athletes named to the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2006 she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In 2019, Guthrie was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, becoming just the fifth woman to be inducted.

As for her role as an advocate for women in motorsports, Guthrie said it became an issue she could not ignore.

“I’m actually quite shy,” she said in a historical interview in a 2019 documentary. “But people would come up to me and say, ‘Do you realize what’s going on in your wake?’ And then they would tell me I was the key figure that women were pointing to and saying, ‘Look, she can do this; I can do this.’ It was a role that I did not seek but came to recognize as a responsibility.”

2023 March Madness: Updated bracket, scores and schedule for NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship

Editor’s note: We’ll keep this page updated, so be sure to check back here for winners, scores and next-round details as the tournament progresses.

The is officially set and defending champion South Carolina earned the No. 1 overall seed for the second straight season. A total of 68 teams will see tournament action, beginning with the “First Four” games on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by Round 1 play kicking off on Friday.

On Her Turf has compiled the matchups, sites and schedule for the tournament, which culminates Sunday, April 2 with the title game from American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Sweet 16: Friday and Saturday, March 24-25; Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C., hosts: Southern Conference and Furman; and Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, hosts: Seattle and Seattle Sports Commission (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2)

Elite 8: Sunday and Monday, March 26-27; Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, S.C., hosts: Southern Conference and Furman; and Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, hosts: Seattle and Seattle Sports Commission

Final 4: Friday, March 31, 7 p.m. ET and 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN); American Airlines Center, Dallas; hosts: Big 12 Conference and Dallas Sports Commission

Championship Game: Sunday, April 2, 3 p.m. ET (ABC); American Airlines Center, Dallas; hosts: Big 12 Conference and Dallas Sports Commission