10 must-see women's sport movies
Ready to transition from Lindsay Lohan's return on Netflix to some incredible movies about women's sport this holidays? Check out our list of our top 10 women's sport movies/docos to watch (in no particular order):
1. Rising Phoenix
The 2020 documentary directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui follows the stories of nine Paralympic athletes. Each athlete has a distinct story to tell on their journey to gold medal success, with viewers wanting to cry, laugh, then cry again. Rising Phoenix is streaming on Netflix.
2. The Swimmers
Directed by Sally El Hosaini, the 2022 biographical drama follows teenage Syrian refugee sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini. The film depicts Yusra’s swimming career which sees her reach the Rio Olympics as a member of the Refugee Olympic Team. The film stars real-life sisters Nathalie and Manal Issa, and is streaming on Netflix.
3. Battle of the Sexes
This Oscar nominated film is loosely based on the 1973 tennis match between World number one Billie Jean King and ex-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs. Praised for its breathless sport action sequences, you can watch Emma Stone and Steve Carell deliver amazing performances on Apple TV or Disney+.
4. Tall Poppy (A Skater’s Story)
Following the journey of Poppy Starr Olsen over ten years from a children skateboarder in Bondi to becoming a world-renowned athlete. The documentary lets us in as we watch Poppy navigate the male dominated sport, achieve her Olympic dreams, and navigate relationships. The film is streaming on ABC iView and Apple TV.
5. The Will to Fly Lydia Lassila
The 2016 film portrays the sporting career and life of Australian aerial ski champion Lydia Lassila. The film self-describes itself as being about the desire to stay true to your heart, following Lydia’s journey as a young mum as she dares for an almost impossible dream against all odds. You can watch the film on iTunes.
6. Athlete A
Content warning: sexual abuse/sexual harassment
Following a team of investigative journalists, the 2020 documentary explores the stories of young women gymnasts who were sexually assaulted by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. The title refers to the identity given to gymnast Maggie Nichokls to protect her identity. The documentary is streaming on Netflix.
7. Girls Can’t Surf
Set in the 1980s, sexism, adventure and heartbreak is explored as the film follows a band of women surfers. The group takes on the professional surfing world to change the sport and achieve equality. The film is on Stan and Apple TV.
8. No Woman No Try
Women’s rugby may be one of the fastest growing sports in the UK but the 2022 documentary makes sure to highlight the challenges women players face off the pitch. Praised for its brutally honest glance into gender, ethnic and sexual inequality experienced by women rugby athletes. The documentary is streaming on Amazon.
9. A League of Her Own
Not to be mistaken with the 1992 American sports film and the 2022 TV series, this documentary follows the Queensland Maroons Women’s rugby league team as they strive to win the 2021 State of Origin. These athletes play one of the most physically demanding professional sports in Australia while juggling their personal lives and fighting for equal pay, like many women athletes. The film is streaming on ABC iView.
10. King Richard
Named one of the ten best films of 2021 by several film institutions, the 2021 film stars Will Smith as Richard Williams - the father and coach of legendary tennis players Venus and Serena Williams. The film is not only praised for its depiction of sexism and racism, but for its portrayal of gentle and dedicated African-American fathers - an image not often seen in cinema. According to Serena and Venus who served as producers, the film is as true to reality as possible. The movie is streaming on Netflix, Binge, Apple TV and Amazon.
Written by Joanna Guelas
Jo is a journalist and writer from Melbourne/Narrm. She is currently in her third-year of her BA (Media Comms/Politics) at the University of Melbourne and is a cadet at the Australian Associated Press. In her spare time, she plays local footy. She can also be spotted behind the camera at local footy matches.