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What a year for women

Time: 2018-12-28 03:16cheongsam dress Click:

Serena Williams of the US smashes her racket while playing Naomi Osaka of Japan during their 2018 US Open women's singles final match in New York on September 8. Photo: VCG

It has been a landmark year for ­women's sport. Whether that has meant a changing of the guard after years of dominance or breakthrough years for record-breaking youngsters, it has been a remarkable 12 months. These are the women that have made their mark on history in 2018.

Ester Ledecka - snowboarding/skiing

The Czech stakes a claim for the greatest sportsperson on the planet after an implausibly successful Winter Olympics. She took gold, as expected, in the parallel giant slalom snowboarding event but then shocked the skiing world by winning gold in the super-G alpine skiing. In doing so she became the first athlete to win gold at the same Olympics using different equipment. An able windsurfer, the 23-year-old has said she's happy to try that at Tokyo 2020.

Simone Biles - gymnastics 

The American outperformed every nation but her own at the World Artistic Gymnastic Championships in Doha in November. The 21-year-old's six medals from the six events included four golds - China and Belgium took one each - and she also found time to take Twitter critics to task in between events. Her Doha feats seem all the more remarkable considering she was hospitalized with kidney stone the night before qualifying.

Serena Williams - tennis

The greatest tennis player of her era, the 37-year-old returned from a year off after the birth of her daughter to prove she has plenty more in the tank. She reached the US Open final, an achievement overshadowed by a spat with an umpire, and at Wimbledon. She needs one more Grand Slam to match Margaret Court's record of 24 and no one can put that past her. More than proving her tennis ability, yet again, 2018 also showed Serena's human side on and off court. The WTA has changed their clothing rules and freezing rankings when players are pregnant, for up to three years from the birth of the child. Serena has set "crazy big goals" for 2019 and she's likely to ace them.

Naomi Osaka - tennis

The 21-year-old's story is becoming more well-known as her tennis makes people stand up and notice. Born to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, the family moved to the US when she was a child and then from New Jersey to tennis hothouse Florida after her father had decided - inspired by the Williams sisters - that his daughters would play the sport. She beat her idol in the US Open final to win her first Slam event. With the Williams sisters sure to stop playing at some point, Osaka may well be the future of tennis, as well as the poster girl of the sport in the US, Japan and beyond. 

Mikaela Shiffrin - skiing

The face of the Pyeongchang Olympics for US broadcaster NBC earlier in the year, the American was up for five golds across five different skiing events. That did not happen - she left with a gold and a silver, the first woman to do that for the US since 1952. She has since turned 23 and tied the World Cup slalom record, winning every slalom race since finishing fourth in her favored event in Pyeongchang. Her 35th World Cup win ties her idol Marlies Schild, who reached the feat aged 32, while it was also Shiffrin's 50th career win. Unsurprisingly, the American is the youngest of the eight skiers to have reached that milestone.

Ada Hegerberg - soccer

The winner of the first-ever female Ballon d'Or, the Norwegian striker was dignity personified as the host of the event, French DJ Martin Solveig, asked her if she could twerk. Misfired joke or otherwise, it highlighted the difficulty that women's sport faces. Hegerberg top-scored in both the Champions League and the French league as Lyon held on to both trophies, finishing the calendar year with more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo. The 23-year-old is out of the Norway squad and will be missed at the World Cup next year. That will be good news for her club as they look for a fourth European title in a row.

England Netball - netball

Tracey Neville, sister to soccer's Neville brothers, took her England side to new heights at the Commonwealth Games. They became the first team outside of New Zealand and Australia to win the gold medal in the 20-year history of the event at the Games, not only that they beat reigning champions Australia in the final and they did so in Australia. It was all the sweeter that the match-winning goal came at the death to pip the hosts 52-51 on the Gold Coast.

Manchester United - soccer

While the men's team have been nothing short of disastrous, the club's women's team have been imperious in their first season. They stand top of the FA Women's ­Super League second tier and odds-on for promotion to the top flight. Many have complained that the Red Devils are professional in a largely semi-pro league and could attract internationals, but this is one of the few things that the club has got right in recent years. Another world-renowned club having a women's team competing at the top level can only be good for the visibility of the women's game.

Lisa Ashton - darts

The four-time British Darts Organisation women's world champion of darts made history in December by taking to the oche at London's Alexandra Palace to take on the men at the PDC World Championship. The 48-year-old Englishwoman gave Jan Dekker of the Netherlands an almighty scare as she took the first leg but eventually lost 3-1. She was the first woman at the event in 18 years and the grandmother proved she deserved to be among the sport's best.

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