In honor of International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8 each year, female surfers at MEO Pro Portugal have chosen to wear shirts bearing the names of the female athletes who have inspired them. Among the stars who have found their way onto the shirts are tennis legends Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and Maria Bueno.
Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka and current world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty were also chosen by several surfers to be honored in this way. The event in Portugal is hosted by the World Surf League and will run from March 3-13.
Japanese-American surfer Kanoa Igarashi and Brazilian surfer Samuel Pupo wore the Osaka name on their respective shirts, while Australians Isabella Nichols, Molly Picklum and Bronte Macaulay went with compatriot Barty.
Lakey Peterson, former No. 1 in the WSL women’s rankings, paid tribute to her American compatriot Billie Jean King by displaying her name on her jersey. American surfer Jake Marshall has also chosen a compatriot in the person of Serena Williams, 23 times Grand Slam champion.
Miguel Pupo and Felipe Toledo showed their respect for the legendary Maria Bueno, the first woman to win the Grand Slam of the calendar in doubles, by wearing shirts bearing the Brazilian’s name.
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have inspired millions with their advocacy for mental health wellness
Naomi Osaka has been at the forefront of a campaign to normalize discussions about mental health in the tennis community. The four-time Grand Slam champion made waves in the sport at the 2021 French Open when she announced she would not be attending the mandatory press conferences.
Instead, the Japanese wanted to prioritize his sanity. Osaka continued to withdraw from the tournament soon after and took a short hiatus from the sport. She also revealed that she has suffered from depression for a long time, drawing attention to the problem at the elite level.
Although the former world No. 1 returned briefly for the Tokyo Olympics, she once again took a break after the US Open and only returned to action this year.
Serena Williams has also been a consistent mental health advocate, openly discussing her struggles with postpartum depression. The American was part of a recent panel alongside Prince Harry for BetterUp, a company that provides mental health services. During the chat, she encouraged fans to embrace failure in order to grow stronger and also spoke about the importance of setting boundaries to protect mental health.
Besides mental health, the 40-year-old is involved in projects that promote gender and racial diversity, body positivity and inclusivity of all kinds.