Happy birthday to Venus Williams, 21 Grand Slam title holder. Williams has won more Olympic gold medals, three, than any other female tennis player, and is only the second player to have won Olympic gold in both singles and doubles at a single Olympic Games. She and her sister, Serena, who have both been ranked World No. 1 at one time or another, have faced each other in 8 Grand Slam singles finals and hold a record for being the only two players to have ever faced each other in 4 consecutive Grand Slam singles finals.
Happy birthday to Kara Goucher, former NCAA Cross Country Champion. Goucher has the Olympic A Standard in the 5000 and 10,000 m and placed third in the New York Marathon in 2008, the first American woman to make it to the podium since 1994. She has also placed third in the Boston Marathon, second at the Arizona Half Marathon, and first at the Lisbon Half Marathon and the mile at the Melrose Games. She has placed third at the World Championships twice.
Happy birthday to Candice Wiggins, the former Stanford University starting shooting guard and current Minnesota Lynx player! During her college career, she was a three-time Pac-10 player of the year and a four-time All-American player (she is one of only seven female players to be named All-American four times). She also won the Wade Trophy, given to the best NCAA Division I player, her senior year.
Happy birthday to Mia Hamm, "the most important athlete of the last 15 years". Named the FIFA World Player of the Year twice, Hamm has won two Olympic gold medals- and one silver- and, with her UNC teammates, four NCAA National Championships. Besides that, she and the U.S. women's national team placed first in the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup and third in the 2003 World Cup. Furthermore, the iconic soccer player established the Mia Hamm Foundation after her brother died of aplastic anemia, a blood disease that can be cured via a bone marrow transplant. The charitable organization seeks to raise funds for, and awareness of, those people who need bone marrow or cord blood transplants.
Happy birthday to Jennifer Capriati, former world number one female tennis player. Capriati began playing tennis professionally in 1990, when she was fourteen, and became the youngest player ever to be ranked in the world top ten that same year. Besides her numerous successes as a top-ranked player, Capriati also holds the distinction of being the lowest seed to ever win the Australian Open when she won the 2001 title.
Happy birthday to Janet Lynn, Olympic bronze medalist and five-time U.S. figure skating champion. Lynn skated her first exhibition performance at age four and, at age eleven, became the youngest skater ever to pass the eighth, and final, United States Figure Skating Association test. Besides that, Lynn was one of the first female figure skaters to perform the triple salchow and triple toe loop jumps in competitions, pioneering a style of skating that would be emulated for years.
Happy birthday to Sun Wen, undoubtedly the best Chinese soccer player in the world. Often compared to Mia Hamm, Sun Wen won the 2005 AFC Women's Asian Cup, as well as both the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball at the 1999 Women's World Cup.
Happy birthday to Carla Overbeck! The star central defender played college soccer for the UNC Tar Heels, who won the NCAA Women's Championship each year Overbeck played on the team. She was also a member of the U.S. team that won the first FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 and was one of two U.S. players to play every minute of every one of the team's games in the 1995 Women's World Cup, 1996 Summer Olympics, and 1999 Women's World Cup.
Happy birthday to Candace Parker, star player on the Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team, winner of the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Championships. Parker now plays for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, was voted Favorite Female Athlete at the 2009 Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards, and is the second WNBA player to dunk in a game.
Happy birthday to Olga Korbut, the Belarusian who has won four Olympic gold medals! Korbut has also won two Olympic silver medals and was the first gymnast inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1988. The Korbut Flip is named after her.
Happy birthday to Joan Benoit, two-time women's Boston Marathon champion. Benoit holds the fastest times of any American woman at the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic Marathon; she held the record at the Boston Marathon for 28 years. Her record-making appearance at the 1984 Olympics marked the first time the women's marathon was an event, thus making Benoit the original Olympic women's marathon champion.
Happy birthday to Steffi Graf, winner of 22 Grand Slam singles titles! Graf is the only tennis player, male or female, to win all four Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in a single year and was ranked World No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association for 377 total weeks, a record that no other player has come close to attaining. In 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by the Associated Press, a title that was bestowed to her once again by Steve Flink, author of The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004.