Women were often overlooked in many works of life, including sports, a male-dominated sphere.
But times are changing, and the feminine folk is making headway in professional and commercial physical exertion.
In 1995, an average of 4,315 people were present in stadiums during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden.
However, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France recorded a 21,756-spectator average.
The same goes for other sports, including badminton, basketball, tennis, volleyball, and a few more.
Without a doubt, estimating the exact participation or viewership audience numbers for sports worldwide will be challenging.
Nevertheless, our well-researched article on the most popular women’s sports offers a general idea of women’s participation in sports.
The World’s Most Popular Women’s Sports
One might doubt a woman’s ability to lift or swing a baseball bat, but the statistics of women supporting the sport do not conform to such a thought.
In fact, women have a long history in American baseball, dating as far back as the mid-nineteenth century.
Several women’s baseball teams have sprung up over the years, and some women have inscribed their names in the record book.
Nellie Twardzik, the first girl to play on a boy’s varsity high school baseball team, made history in the 1930s.
Yet, recent records of history are available, including Kelsie Whitmore, who started a game for the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League to become the first woman to start a game in the league.
Sampling a few women suggests how indispensable the feminine gender has been in the sport but does little to solidify our claim as one of the most popular women’s sports.
Therefore, we may quote numbers to show how widespread the sport is among female folks.
In May 2022, Statista conducted a survey depicting the interest level in the MLB in the United States, revealing that 43% of female respondents were fans, of which 12% identified themselves as “avid fans.”
A research article submitted to Union College, New York, reveals that the ratio of female baseball to male baseball fans is the most equal of any United States major professional sport, calling women indisputable baseball fans.
While the same cannot be said of women worldwide, the North American data is large enough to place the sport on our list.
Are you tempted to think the chills from high-speed driving are reserved for men only? Please consider your thoughts after this section.
In a September 2021 survey, 17% of female American respondents associated themselves with Formula One fanship, and 46% of female respondents in the United Kingdom said they were Formula One enthusiasts earlier in April.
Still regarding Formula One, the Director of Marketing and Communications, Ellie Norman, revealed that 44% of the organization’s fanbase were women.
Some women run fan accounts to show their support for motorsport; Lena Hernach (@formulena on Twitter) has over 21.5k followers, to whom she provides Formula One content.
Sadly, controversies about the exact reason for the large female fanship in the sport have sprung up, citing comments from Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner that many women are fans because of attractive young drivers.
However, we must uphold the large supportive turnouts from women regardless of their primary reasons for supporting the sport.
The feminine gender has not been established in cycling’s mainstream acclaim on a professional scale.
Women’s races are still held in conjunction with men’s tours, with shorter distances and smaller wages.
About 50% of female riders earn less than €10,000, while the minimum wage for a male rider on a professional continental team is almost €31,000.
Worse still, 17% of female riders are registered in professional teams without salary.
However, there is good news regarding women’s participation in cycling, especially unprofessionally.
Cycling has notable health benefits, reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, burning fat, and improving blood circulation.
Therefore, women are more likely to express their interest in the sport. Women worldwide participate in cycling recreationally, competitively, and professionally.
In Osaka, females constitute 64.2% of bike riders, while female riders are between 25 and 35 percent in Australia.
Americans use bikes for 1.1% of trips, with women bossing the stat as 0.6% of these trips are theirs.
7. Table Tennis
An estimated 350 million people worldwide are table tennis fans, and a considerable fraction constitutes women.
Asians are really into table tennis, especially Chinese and Japanese.
China is the world’s most popular country, and a considerable number of female table tennis fans from the country highly contribute to the supposed popularity of table tennis.
Names like Sun Yingsha and Liu Shiwen are popular in women’s table tennis.
Africans are included in women’s table tennis, too; Egypt has an undeniable dominance in the sport’s events, but popular names emerge from around the continent, including Olufunke Oshonaike, the only woman with seven Olympic table tennis appearances.
Pinpoint statistics regarding participation and viewership of women’s table tennis are not readily available, but these premises point to the sport’s popularity among women.
Women’s cricket used to dwell in the shadow of the men’s game, but it is currently a well-established sport, with 108 national teams participating internationally.
How true is this assertion?
Average viewership figures are substantially increasing; a game between Sydney Thunder and the Melbourne Stars peaked at 637,000 viewers in 2016, with 47 Women’s Big Bash League matches being streamed online and twelve matches broadcasted on Australian TV.
Similar success exists in the WBBL, as 535,000 viewers watched the final between Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers in 2021.
Australian men are taking an interest in women’s sports, with 67% of viewers across major sporting leagues, including WBBL being males, according to MediaWeek.
New audiences have also witnessed massive turnouts, with 267,000 speculators attending the inaugural Hundred Women’s Cricket in 2021 and 271,000 attending the event in 2022.
New implementations will increase the game’s popularity, one of which is the first-ever Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) tournament to begin in 2023.
The league is believed to speed up the sport’s growth.
One hardly finds any opposition to the notion that volleyball has more female participants than males.
However, the information to back its popularity on a global scale might only be available to some.
The United States and Brazil used to boss over the sport, but its diversity in other parts of the world is undeniable nowadays.
The upsurge is evident in ESPN’s announcement that it will delegate commentators for every match, proving the sport’s growth in viewership numbers.
In sports, fame goes beyond evaluating participation and spectatorship at the professional level.
Grassroots, including local competitive and recreational levels, also contribute to the figures.
Consequently, we observe high school volleyball participation in the United States, where women’s volleyball witnessed about 12% growth in the last decade.
Over 450,000 young girls participated in the 2021-22 school year alone.
Women in volleyball also enjoy similar success in other areas. Italy, where the sport is among the most popular and practiced, readily comes to mind.
Over 330,000 Italian athletes played volleyball—248,557 women and 73,792 men.
The list will only be complete with a sport that houses some of the world’s most influential sports figures, including Naomi Osaka and the Williams sisters.
Unlike cycling, tennis is popular recreationally and professionally, where even men do not shy out of the thrills.
The event of mixed doubles has contributed to women’s success in tennis, but female singles and doubles also have the numbers to be considered mainstream.
Therefore, tennis is one of the few sports where women command fame that equals their male counterparts.
Recent statistics reveal that the number of female tennis players in the United States fiercely competes with males, as 46% of American tennis players are females.
Viewership numbers for women’s tennis also support our claim that it is among the most popular women’s sports.
In August 2022, viewership numbers for Williams’ match on ESPN peaked at 3.2 million, according to SportsMediaWatch.
However, larger viewership audiences have made the record, including the 2015 quarterfinal between Venus and Serena Williams, averaging six million during Serena’s Grand Slam pursuit.
Netball, originally misinterpreted as women’s basketball, is Australia’s biggest team sport, enjoyed by over 1.2 million men, women, and children nationwide despite being designed exclusively for the feminine gender.
While a basketball spin-off sport enjoys this success in one country, women’s basketball, enjoyed globally, is one of the world’s most popular sports.
A survey revealed that 37% of women in the United States are interested in the National Basketball Association.
While more basketball support comes from males than females, times change, and women are more actively immersed in basketball fanship.
Female viewers increased by 23% during the 2021-22 regular season, as NBA estimates that women now constitute one-third of their audience.
Many sports fans are acquainted with names like Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez, often matching them to beauty.
While men dominate basketball, tennis, football, and most of this list, gymnastics is a sport where women call the shots thanks to its female participants’ elegance, poise, and artful performances.
Gymnastics is a popular women’s sport; millions enjoy watching it to admire the feminine enchantment.
In the United States alone, there are over 68,000 gymnasts in women’s programs compared to just 12,000 in men’s programs.
The women’s finals of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials averaged 5.75 million viewers on NBC, a massive turnout for a women-dominated sport.
The sport achieved this feat despite losing a substantial part of its audience compared to 2012 and 2016.
The event was the most-watched during a week that included a rare NBA conference final between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks.
1. Association Football (Soccer)
When names, including Megan Rapinhoe and Alex Morgan from the United States, a non-major footballing nation, become so popular, one feels that football has to be the most popular women’s sport.
Undoubtedly, football is the most popular women’s sport out there. In 1995, an average of 4,315 people were present in stadiums during the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden.
However, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France recorded a 21,756-spectator average.
Still, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is not a hallmark in women’s football viewership.
The 2022 Women’s European Championship accumulated a record-breaking 365 million global viewer audience.
The game between England and the United States on October 7, 2022, saw all available tickets off the table for the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium fifteen minutes after going on sale to become the U.K.’s fastest-ever sellout for a women’s game.
The rivalry, passion, and drama that abound in the sports world are not reserved only for male folk.
Even females enjoy the excitement, upsets, and thrills associated with sports.
Sports have unified tribes and countries and currently fight to end racial discrimination.
Sadly, it still struggles with gender discrimination as women’s sports come second place in interest levels and commercial benefits.
The world is revolving, and things are changing, as evident in 15.1m people watching women’s sports in the first three months of 2022.
Moving, we hope women’s sports continue to bask in global acclaim in the future.