15 Latina Female Athletes Who Were Game-changers
Game-changing Latina athletes have been relentless in reaching their goals. Thanks to them, present and future Latina athletes have an easier path to success.
These famous Latina athletes will inspire you to follow your dreams no matter what they might be. Their excellence and dedication has paved the way for future generations and serve as an example that anything is possible with determination and discipline.
15 Latina Female Athletes Who Were Game-changers
Some of these Latina athletes are up-and-coming, while others are legends. Read on to learn more and get inspired by these famous Latina athletes.
Hand-picked for you: 12 Greatest Latin American Athletes of All Time
1. Diana Taurasi
At 39 years old and 6 feet tall, Diana is the daughter of a professional basketball player and an Argentine mother. She grew up in California and is one of the top 15 WNBA players in history. Kobe Bryant called her “The White Mamba,” comparing Diana to himself.
Diana has won several Olympic gold medals and has been an inspiration for Latina female athletes around the world.
Quote: “Every generation has their own great players. Who’s to say that anyone’s better than Cheryl Miller or Nancy Lieberman? Who’s to say Michael Jordan is better than Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson or Larry Bird? Every generation has its great player. There’s never going to be one player that’s so above and beyond anyone else.”
2. Rachel Garcia
Rachel Garcia is a medal-winning Olympian softball pitcher who played for UCLA. She led the Bruins to the Women’s College World Series Championship in 2019 and was named the Most Outstanding Player.
With Latin American parents, Garcia changed softball in 2020 when she went to the Summer Olympics and took home the silver medal. Rachel was named one of the greatest pitchers at age 24 by the NCAA. She was the No. 1 draft pick in the Athletes Unlimited Softball draft and continues to surpass goals in her pitching career.
Quote: “Happiness is not the absence of problems. It’s the ability to deal with them.”
3. Maggie Steffens
Maggie Steffens grew up looking up to her dad, who played in three Pan American Games for Puerto Rico before he started his professional water polo career at the University of California.
Maggie’s sister Jessica is also a professional water polo player with whom she participated in the 2012 London Olympic Games.
In the Tokyo Olympics, Maggie won her third gold medal. She is of Puerto Rican descent and proudly calls herself a Latina. Maggie has been a pioneer in water sports for years and wants to inspire young girls to pursue this sport.
Quote: “At an early age I realized how important it is to be challenged and how OK it is to fail at things and just keep improving. I was surrounded by people who were better than me, stronger than me, smarter. I knew it would make me a better player.”
4. Anita Alvarez
Anita is a Mexican-American member of the US Synchronized Swimming National Team who competed in the 2016 Olympics in the duet category. That same year, she was named the top synchro swimmer of the year. Anita grew up surrounded by the sport and began her training when she was 5 years old! Her mother was a synchro swimmer as well and coached a team in New York.
Alvarez lost consciousness in the Tokyo Olympics when she was in the pool but recovered later that day. Anita’s relentless spirit to keep competing no matter what makes her an amazing role model for all Latina female athletes to never give up!
Quotes: “Being Mexican-American in artistic swimming, where you maybe don’t see as much representation . . . it’s been really special for me to be one of those people representing.”
“That’s important when you think about artistic swimming as a sport. It might not have synchronized in its name anymore, but appearing symmetrical is still a huge part of your success.”
5. Angelica Delgado
Angelica Delgado is another Latina athlete who went into the family business. Her Cuban father Miguel was on the national Judo team. Angelica says she would not be the judogi she is today without him.
Delgado is a two-time Pan American Games medalist who made her second Olympic appearance in the Tokyo Olympics. Angelica is proud to further the sport and inspire other young Latina female athletes to practice Judo.
Quote: “It gave me that fuel, it really lit a fire under me, so I could change all those mistakes that I needed to correct for these games.”
6. Caterine Ibargüen
Caterine is a multi-talented Colombian athlete in the triple jump, long jump, and high jump. She has won many awards, including two gold medals at the IAAF Athletics World Championship. a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, and two gold medals at the 2011 Pan-American Games.
Caterine Ibargüen retired in 2021. She was one of the first Latina female athletes to break the national long jump record in Colombia. She continues to inspire Latinas to follow in her footsteps.
Quote: “I think people are grateful for what I do, it makes me happy that I bring some happiness to my country and that children are influenced by me and each day kids look at me as an example… an example that the country can go forward.”
7. Sofia Mulanovich
Sofía is a three-time world surfing champion from Peru. She was the first Latin American ever to win a World Surf League Championship Tour event in 2004. Sofía is the only Latina athlete to win two ISA World Championships.
Sofia was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 2007. She became the first South American or Latin American to win the world title in 2004. Sofia has broken so many records and shown young Latina female athletes that anything is possible.
Quote: “When I was a little kid, I used to dream about this. I’ve done this for my country and for all South Americans. Just to make a change and give them hope. If you really want something, you’ll get it.”
8. Yulimar Rojas
Yulimar Rojas is the Venezuelan queen of the triple jump who has been crowned the World Champion twice.
Yulimar moved to Guadalajara, Spain in 2015 to further her career. She received the Venezuelan Order of José Félix Ribas – First Class, making her one of the first to ever receive such an award.
Her greatest achievement was winning the silver medal in the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Rojas holds the world indoor record for the triple jump. Since 2014, she has held the Venezuelan national records in the triple jump and long jump.
Quote: “This is only the beginning for Yulimar Rojas and Venezuela. Many more medals will come to this beautiful country… I love my country, Long live Venezuela! ”
9. Gabriela Sabatini
Gabriela Sabatini is a famous tennis player who won 41 doubles and singles titles throughout her career. She’s an Argentinian legend who broke records and paved the way for other professional tennis players who came after her.
Sabatini became a part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2018, she made Tennis Magazine’s top 20 list of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Quotes: “It’s a great moment for Argentinean tennis, more on the men’s side. I would like to see more on the women’s side. I think we have to work a little bit more on that.”
“For me retiring wasn’t hard once I knew that that was the decision I was going to make.”
10. Garbine Muguruza
Garbine is a tennis pro from Venezuela who has been crowned No. 1 since she started her career in 2012. She’s won 8 singles titles, including the French Open and Wimbledon. Muguruza’s father is from Spain, and her mother is from Venezuela. She began playing tennis at age three.
Muguruza moved to Spain as a child and trained at the Bruguera Tennis Academy in Barcelona. She has an aggressive and explosive tennis style and plays with fire and passion.
Quote: “People only see two hours of a tennis match where you’re fighting and running and sometimes getting upset. There’s a lot more than those two hours. Going out there and playing is actually the easy part.”
11. Amy Rodriguez
Amy Rodriguez’s paternal grandparents were from Cuba and immigrated to the U.S in the 1950s. Amy is a forward with the Utah Royals soccer team. Rodriguez is also a member of the US Women’s National Team and best known for her incredible speed on the field.
This female athlete started to excel in the sport in high school. She was named Parade All-American and Gatorade player of the year. She went on to play in several World Cup championships and Olympic games.
Quotes: “I had a great experience at the  World Cup. Unfortunately, we didn’t end on the note we wanted to, but I still had an amazing time representing our country and playing in front of thousands of fans.”
12. Sofia Huerta
Sofia Huerta is a Mexican soccer player in the US National Women’s Soccer League. She has played for the national team and has had a huge influence from Mexico even though she’s half American. Her father is from Mexico and her mother is from the United States.
She has played on both Mexico and USA’s soccer teams, and she’s proud to represent both nationalities on the field. Huerta has received criticism from fans for playing for two countries but she’s proud to represent both sides of her family.
Quote: “I am very honored to be nominated for the College Boot. Any time I am recognized for playing soccer it is rewarding. I couldn’t have had the year I did without the help of my coaches and teammates.”
13. Mary Joe Fernandez
Mary Joe Fernandez was one of the best Latina athletes of her time. She was the runner-up in three Grand Slams and won two Grand Slams in women’s doubles tennis. She also won an Olympic gold medal. In 1985 at age 14, she became the youngest player to win a match at the U.S. Open.
She’s from the Dominican Republic but moved to Miami where she finished high school and continued to hone her tennis skills. She won gold medals in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. She is now retired and is a tennis commentator for CBS Sports and ESPN.
Quote: “God has used those tough times to make me stronger to help me grow spiritually.”
14. Jennifer Rodriguez
Jennifer Rodriguez is a Cuban-American speed skater who began her career as an artistic roller skater. She has won multiple national and world championships.
In 1993, Rodriguez became a world champion in inline speed skating. She switched to inline ice skating in 1996 and went to the 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010 Winter Olympics. She has two bronze medals and promotes the sport with young athletes so that it can continue to grow.
Quote: “I’m proud of what I did. It’s not all about winning medals.”
15. Laurie Hernandez
Laurie Hernandez is an American artistic gymnast who competed as a member of the U.S. women’s team in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and won a gold medal. She is of Puerto Rican descent.
She has also appeared in televised dance competitions including Dancing with the Stars. Her story is featured in The Untold Story of Women’s Gymnastics, and she has a series on YouTube Originals.
Hernandez knows how important her role is as a Puerto Rican and a famous Latina athlete. She hopes to inspire many girls to follow their athletic dreams.
Quotes: “I didn’t realize the impact of being a Latina gymnast in 2016, how much of an impact that would have on other people watching. So now, coming back a second time, I think that’s something I’m paying attention to. It’s something that I’m proud of. And it’s something I own.”
Get Inspired to Speak Spanish Through Sports
These famous Latina athletes are inspiring because they never gave up on their dreams. Do you dream of becoming bilingual? Learning Spanish is an amazing way to enhance your life. It has many proven benefits, including keeping your brain sharp and boosting your ability to learn new concepts. Learning Spanish not only improves your resume but also empowers you to enhance your travel experiences and meet new friends from a new culture.
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