After a washout year in 2020, 2021 promises to be a big one for women’s sport – here are five key events to stick in your diary…
In the world of women’s sport, the summer of 2019 was one to remember.
According to research from the Women’s Sport Trust, a six-week period between 7 June and 14 July found parity of editorial coverage between women and men’s sport in leading digital and print media.
If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is – according to a study conducted by Women in Sport, 2018 saw women’s sport account for just 4% of sports media coverage in the UK.
Visibility is important – you can’t be what you can’t see, and according to a new report commissioned by Sports Direct (part of their new Equal Play initiative aimed at driving gender equality in sport), while around 60% of boys and young men said they dreamed of reaching the top levels of sport, only 30% of girls and young women said the same.
So, with 2020 having represented a massive step backward, with the vast majority of women’s sport cancelled (even while their male counterparts were allowed to continue), it’s more important than ever that we support those events going forward in 2021.
Here are five of the biggest events taking place in the coming year, and how you can watch them…
1. Women's Six Nations
While the 2021 Rugby World Cup has been delayed to 2022, the upcoming Women’s Six Nations tournament is still scheduled to go ahead this spring, albeit in a condensed format across four weekends in April.
Countries will be split into two pools of three teams, with each team playing one home and one away fixture, starting on 3-4 April. Once the pool round matches are complete, teams will face play-off matches to decide placings in a grand final weekend on 24 April in which the Six Nations Champions 2021 will be crowned.
England arrive as defending Grand Slam champions after winning all five of their matches in the pre-lockdown tournament in 2020, but Scotland will be hoping to derail their hopes when the two nations clash in Pool A. Meanwhile, Wales and Ireland will go head to head in what promises to be a Pool B highlight.
How to watch: Exact broadcast details have yet to be confirmed, but the tournament will be available to stream live on the Women’s Six Nations YouTube channel.
2. UEFA Women's Champions League final
On 16 May, one of the most prestigious matches in the footballing calendar will be played at Gothenburg’s Gamla Ullevi arena: the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
In terms of the English sides involved, Chelsea and Manchester City are still in the mix, with the likes of European player of the year Pernille Harder and FIFA player of the year Lucy Bronze among the key talent to keep your eye on.
How to watch: The UEFA Women’s Champions League will be available to watch on NowTV, Apple TV and BT Sport.
3. England vs India Test match
Announced, appropriately enough, on International Women’s Day, England and India’s cricket teams will play a one-off women’s Test match this summer.
The match is a welcome return to action for England, representing their first Test match since they drew with Australia in 2019 as part of the Women’s Ashes, and India’s first since 2014, when they beat South Africa by an innings and 34 runs.
Details have still to be confirmed regarding dates and venue, but it’s expected to take place in the UK at some point in June or July.
If you’ve yet to dip a toe in the world of women’s cricket, this promises to be a great place to start.
How to watch: TBC. Stay tuned to the ECB website for more details.
4. Wimbledon Championships
Following its cancellation last year, the most prestigious tennis Grand Slam makes a welcome return this summer, with the tournament scheduled to run between 28 June and 11 July, and the Ladies’ Final being played on Saturday 10 July.
Seedings will be announced closer to the time, but expect defending champion Simona Halep to be battling it out with the likes of Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu.
And of course, winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles Serena Williams is also likely to have a say in where the trophy ends up…
How to watch: Full Wimbledon coverage and daily highlights shows will be broadcast by the BBC, with both the men’s and women’s finals also available on Eurosport.
5. Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
Originally scheduled to take place in summer 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were postponed as a result of the pandemic.
At present, organisers are adamant that the Games will be going ahead between 23 July and 8 August 2021, with the Paralympics getting underway on 24 August.
Team GB also has plenty of exciting athletes in action, including well-known faces such as sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, endurance runner Laura Muir, two-time bouldering World Cup winner Shauna Coxsey, reigning Olympic taekwondo athlete Jade Jones, and Britain’s first female Olympic medallist in triathlon, Vicky Holland.
But there are up-and-coming talents to watch out for too, including triple jumper Naomi Ogbeta, long jumper Jazmin Sawyers, hurdler Jessie Knight, swimmer Freya Anderson, skateboarder Sky Brown and triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown. Be sure to follow them and watch their progress.
How to watch: Full coverage of the 2021 Olympics Games will be broadcast by the BBC, with live coverage across their range of channels.