Some of the most extraordinary accomplishments in the record books are related to sports and entertainment.
The women who have conquered official Guinness World Records titles in these categories are ones that have made major headlines or have shattered the boundaries for their respective fields.
Whether it’s becoming an all-around Olympic champion or performing incredible stunts at milestone ages, these record breaking women are showing young girls everywhere how to push the limits for ultimate success.
As we continue to feature exceptional women in honor of Women’s History Month, here are our list of title holders who are absolute show-stopping inspirations.
Joanne Rowling is likely one of the most famed authors in the world, and is best known for her creative literary work of art: the Harry Potter series. The best-selling book series was finally finished in 2007, and has since been turned into theme parks, memorabilia, video games, and of course, a seven-part movie series. All are the result of her writing as a struggling single parent which began in 1990. The idea for Harry and the wizarding world came to her on a train – and as a result, the ambitious creator continued to write out the series mostly in longhand and on scraps of paper. In fact, the first scribbles of the well-known book series was written on napkins! Although her book was rejected by 12 publishers, her perseverance, diligent writing, and clever creativity brought her to success. So much that, she officially holds the Guinness World Records title for being the first billion-dollar author and is one of only five self-made billionaires around the globe. Now, the seven Harry Potter books have sold a total of 400 million copies around the world and are published in 55 languages, including Latin and Ancient Greek.
As a performing trapeze artist, Betty is an exemplary female leader as she shows no fear! However, she is also proving to those everywhere that age is just a number, especially since she still performs at the age of 87. Achieving extraordinary stunts at an age where many wouldn't dream of such as physically demanding hobby, Betty has held the title for the oldest performing flying trapeze artist (female) since 1 July 2017 when she was 84 years 249 days old. Betty’s inspiration stems from her childhood when her parents took her to the circus in Kansas City and she witnessed trapeze artists for the very first time. However, it wasn’t until her 78th birthday when a friend bought her trapeze lessons that she ever considered trying it for herself. While many would doubt their ability to try the activity at her age, Betty has been fearless from all of the challenges she persevered through while growing up. Through these experiences, Betty mentions she has learned anything is possible and credits her dad who taught her an important life lesson to overcome any obstacle that comes her way:
Joining the list of outstanding athletes is none other than tennis powerhouse Serena Williams, an American pro player and former No. 1 in the singles category as ranked by the Women’s Tennis Association. Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. She has earned several Guinness World Records titles for her talent, including longest span of Grand Slam singles titles by a tennis player (open era). Not only did she win the Australian Open while three months pregnant in 2017, she also broke the record during that tournament for being world’s oldest tennis Grand Slam singles winner, having achieved her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at 35 years and 124 days.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t know the name Oprah Winfrey. The prominent figure has worn many hats throughout her thriving career, including media executive, actress, talk show host, television producer, and magazine Editor in Chief of her very own publication. Regarded as one of the most influential women in the world, it’s no wonder that her Guinness World Records title for highest annual earnings for a television personality ever (female) relates to her overwhelming success. Between June 2009 and June 2010, Oprah Winfrey (USA) earned an estimated $275 million (£189.5 million) thanks to her magazine, her radio contract, her production company Harpo and the debut of the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also has the record for the largest TV contract, after signing a deal in 2003 for $279 million (£175 million) with the American TV station, ABC, to host The Oprah Winfrey Show for an extra two years until 2008.
Earlier in August, Simone Biles shook the world as she made history by being the first gymnast to perform a double-double dismount on beam during a competition. The double-double refers to an athlete’s ability to do a double twist as well as a two flips off a beam – and the effect is mesmerizing. She performed the dismount en route to winning her sixth U.S all-round title at the United States National Gymnastics Championships, in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, on 11 August 2019. Many might think a majority of her records were set when she competed at the last summer Olympics, but actually, the mighty 4’8 athlete has continued her legacy by achieving six records this year alone.
At this year’s big game, 49ers’ coach Katie Sowers became the world’s first female assistant coach in a Super Bowl®. An influential and empowering milestone for women in the sports world, the 33-year-old succeeded in the feat as the offensive assistant coach for the team. And while this accomplishment is the first of its kind for women coaches in the sport of American football, it took years of hard work and dedication. Ironically, Katie grew up in the Kansas City area with a deep love for football since elementary school. She played football and spent eight years with the Women’s Football Alliance, which led to her joining the U.S. Women’s National Football Team in 2013. After college, she worked with the Atlanta Falcons with a focus on wide receivers, a concentration that eventually helped her transition to working with the 49ers’ wide receivers as a seasonal offensive assistant – which she has now served at for two seasons. Katie’s efforts have now been recognized by Microsoft, in a commercial that has been running on television screens for the duration of the Super Bowl®. In this clip, Katie mentions, “I always wanted to be a coach. I never saw an opportunity in football because I'd never seen a female coach before." Yet despite the challenges that came with trying to climb her way up in a male-dominated career, the Niners' assistant proved her way into the record books with her unrelenting but inspiring perseverance.