This summer, the world’s most talented sportswomen are doing their thing behind the ball, in the scrum, at the net, in the octagon and off the top turnbuckle. It’s a fabulous feast of athletic entertainment, and with Virgin TV you won’t miss a punch, try, smash or knockout. Excited? You should be, because these girls most definitely can.
It all kicks off this Sunday with a massive title rematch between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 213 live on BT Sport and the wrestling extravaganza WWE Great Balls Of Fire on Sky Box Office. But that’s only scratching the surface, because there’s loads more action coming up between now and August. Want the lowdown on the women you need to know about in the biggest events? Then check out this fab five…
1. Amanda Nunes
UFC 213 – Nunes v Shevchenko II, Sunday, 10pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/528)
The headline fight of the epic-looking UFC 213 sees Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko go head-to-head in a grudge rematch that just happens to be for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship. Current title-holder Nunes won the pair’s previous scrap, knocked out superstar Ronda Rousey in her last fight and goes into this battle as favourite, but don’t underestimate Shevchenko. The challenger is out for revenge, on a two-fight winning streak and talking tough. “You have until the fight to speak,” she warned her opponent. “Then it will be done.”
2. Alexa Bliss
WWE Great Balls of Fire, Sunday night/Monday morning, 1am, Sky Box Office
Goodness gracious, the WWE’s latest pay-per-view event is going to be spectacular. In addition to Roman Reigns taking on Braun Strowman in a hardcore “ambulance match” (you win by shutting your opponent in the back of an ambulance), Brock Lesnar battles Samoa Joe for the WWE Universal Championship and Alexa Bliss will be defending her Raw Women’s Championship belt. The 5’ 1” star might not look physically intimidating, but her movement is sensational and good luck to anyone who experiences her chokehold or Snap DDT.
3. Steph Houghton
UEFA Women’s Euro 2017, from 16 July, Channel 4/HD (CH 104/141) + Eurosport 1/HD (CH 523/521) and Eurosport 2/HD (CH 544/522)
Has it really been two years since England’s Women thrilled the country with their run to the semi-finals of the World Cup? It has, but this summer inspirational captain Steph Houghton and her Lionesses are back on the hunt for silverware at UEFA Women’s Euro 2017. “We want to go to the Netherlands and be successful,” says Houghton. “It’s exciting for us to be one of the favourites. It brings a different type of pressure, but hopefully one we can thrive on.” England start their campaign with a huge clash against Scotland on 19 July, before rounding off the group stages with matches against Spain and Portugal.
4. Rochelle “Rocky” Clark
Women’s Rugby World Cup, from 9 August, ITV
Pop quiz, readers. Who is England’s most capped rugby player? No, the answer isn’t Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson or Jason Leonard. It’s England Women’s prop forward Rochelle “Rocky” Clark. Since making her national team debut against Canada in 2003, the 36-year-old Worcester Valkyries star has won 124 caps, scored 22 international tries, lost two World Cup finals, been awarded an MBE for her services to rugby and helped England lift the 2014 World Cup. But can she drive her country to a second successive World Cup win this August? “That’s the next goal,” she admits. “How cool would that be, being a double world champion?”
5. Simona Halep
WTA Rogers Cup, from 7 August, BT Sport
Following the excitement of Wimbledon, the tennis world turns its attention to the hard courts of Toronto, Canada, where the world’s finest female players will be going all out to win the prestigious Rogers Cup. Last year, Simona Halep lifted the trophy and given her current form, energy levels and shot-making ability, we make the 25-year-old Romanian a hot favourite to defend her title.