7 Amazing Athlete Mothers
In an industry that lacks resources for mothers, these seven athlete moms are on the frontlines of progress.
Athlete mothers are some of the most inspiring figures in sports. They not only dedicate their professional lives to achieving victory in elite competitions but also do so while navigating the ups and downs of parenthood.
Unfortunately, the sporting world isn’t entirely accommodating to athlete mothers. But we’ve highlighted seven high-profile sports moms that are using their visibility to promote change on and off the playing field.
Soccer mom is a term often associated with mothers who seemingly dedicate their lives to driving their children to and from extracurricular activities. But Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux takes it one step further. In fact, every match day is Take Your Child to Work Day for the mother of two.
Off the pitch, Leroux has advocated for paid parental leave within the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL)—something that’s finally becoming a reality, thanks to the league’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement.
Two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker knows a thing or two about making a triumphant comeback after giving birth. In 2009, she missed eight games before returning to the court and led the league in rebounds that season.
Parker is a perfect example of an athlete mom motivated by her children. She and her daughter are even investors of the new Los Angeles–based women’s soccer team Angel City Football Club—a prime example of women supporting women across different sports.
This season, you can catch Parker in action with the Chicago Sky by checking out our How to Watch the WNBA guide.
One of the most prominent athlete moms of the last decade is Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix. Despite her track and field dominance, Felix made headlines in 2019 for a more discouraging reason.
Writing for The New York Times, Felix revealed that Nike offered her 70 percent less sponsorship pay due to her pregnancy. The backlash from Felix’s article and other outspoken Olympians forced the sportswear powerhouse to establish a new maternity policy, but Felix went on to sign with Athleta instead.
Racing Louisville forward Jessica McDonald has achieved a lot in domestic and international soccer. She’s won three NWSL Championships and one Olympic gold medal, all while pushing for a positive future for her son.
McDonald is also a vocal supporter of youth sports and labor rights. In 2021, she appeared alongside several other US Women’s National Team members in the HBO Max documentary LFG to promote equal pay within the national team.
Cat Zingano is a trailblazer for mothers participating in MMA. After all, she was the first mom to compete in the UFC and the first mom to win a UFC fight by technical knockout.
Outside of the ring, the now-Bellator MMA fighter is on a mission to repel the stigma surrounding PTSD. It’s something that she hopes people can become more open about—having dealt with it alongside her son after the death of her husband.
Visit our How to Watch UFC and Bellator MMA page to find the best ways to watch the latest women’s MMA fights—including Zingano’s upcoming Bellator 282 bout against Pam Sorenson on June 24, 2022.
Remember when we said Candace Parker and her daughter are investors of Angel City FC? Well, so are Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter—who became the youngest “investor” of a pro sports team at the age of three.
But Williams’ journey to becoming a mother was not all rose-tinted. There were many medical complications along the way, all of which she details in the 2018 HBO docuseries Being Serena—available to stream on HBO Max.
Kaleo Kanahele Maclay
One of the biggest controversies of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo was that children couldn’t accompany their athlete parents to the competition. While that rule was revised a couple of times leading up to the competition, it highlighted a glaring oversight towards athlete moms and dads.
Paralympic gold medalist Kaleo Kanahele Maclay experienced this firsthand, having to leave her three-year-old son and husband behind for three weeks. In the end, we’re happy to report that Maclay’s sacrifice paid off in the form of a gold medal.