A number of women’s sports stars have made this year’s Forbes “30 Under 30” list, including Sophia Smith and Angel Reese.

Forbes features 30 people who are changing the game in sports, including Smith, who helped lead the U.S. women’s national team in the 2023 World Cup. Despite a disappointing finish at the tournament, the 23-year-old forward represents the future of the national team, and she also won the NWSL Golden Boot with 11 goals for the Portland Thorns.

Reese led the LSU basketball team to its first national title in April 2023. The Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Final Four, the 21-year-old’s national profile skyrocketed, and she has endorsement deals with Reebok, Coach and more. While Reese is off to a rocky start to the new season, including an unexplained four-game absence, she remains among the biggest stars in the college game.

Other honorees from the world of women’s sports include:

  • Napheesa Collier, 27, Minnesota Lynx forward
  • Jessica Pegula, 29, tennis player
  • Kate Douglass, 22, Team USA swimmer
  • Sha’Carri Richardson, Team USA sprinter
  • Olivia Dunne, 21, LSU gymnast
  • Diana Flores, 26, flag football quarterback
  • Maddie Musselman, 25, Team USA water polo player

Several more names included on the list come from the business side of women’s sports, including Robyn Brown, who is the senior manager of brand and content strategy for the Phoenix Mercury, and Natalie White, who founded women’s basketball shoe brand Moolah Kicks.

Jessica Pegula set the record straight after getting eliminated from the US Open singles tournament on Monday.

The No. 3-ranked player lost in straight sets to fellow American and World No. 17 Madison Keys in the Round of 16. During her post-match press conference, Pegula responded directly to a journalist, refuting a tweet by The Tennis Podcast that she had left the court crying.

“Were you guys the ones that tweeted that I cried when I walked off the court?” she asked. “Someone said I walked off the court in tears. I most definitely was not crying.

“It just sounded really sad and I was like, ‘I definitely wasn’t crying. I just got waxed in like an hour. I gotta go play dubs [doubles] in an hour.’”

Later on Monday, The Tennis Podcast tweeted a clarification, saying it had erred in assuming Pegula was crying when she touched her eye.

Not longer after the loss to Keys, Pegula returned to Arthur Ashe Stadium with doubles partner Coco Gauff. The Americans defeated Marta Kostyuk and Elena-Gabriela Ruse in straight sets to advance to the women’s doubles quarterfinals.

Pegula will also play in the mixed doubles quarterfinal on Tuesday with partner Austin Krajicek as the top-ranked mixed doubles team.

When Jessica Pegula won the Canadian Open over Liudmila Samsonova on Sunday night, she also had to overcome a recent foe: “Cotton-Eye Joe.”

In Saturday’s semifinal win against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Pegula played through the song, which broke out mid-point in a set she eventually lost. She overcame the lost set to win the match, 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-4, and then beat Samsonova in straight sets to take the title in Montreal.

She would hear “Cotton-Eye Joe” once again after that win, thanks to a bit of humor from whoever controls the in-stadium speakers.

“I lost a lot of points consecutively after ‘Cotton-Eye Joe’ came on [in the semifinals], so I’m glad I got over the ‘Cotton-Eye Joe’ jinx or whatever you want to call it,” Pegula said after her title win. “It was almost my downfall yesterday, but not anymore.”

The victory ended an impressive run for Pegula, who also toppled Coco Gauff in the quarterfinals. She became the first American to win the event since Serena Williams in 2013.

“I feel like I did enough to where I could just play freely,” she said. “It was a good day. … Winning a week like this week makes it all worth it and makes you want to keep going for more. I’ll be right back at it tomorrow in Cincinnati.”

Afterward, Pegula took to Instagram, where she dedicated her win to her dog Dex, who passed away earlier this summer.

“From two weeks ago crying on my couch for days wondering how the hell I was going to start this swing — to this week — this one’s for you Dex, thanks for looking out for me down here,” she wrote.

Jessica Pegula stunned world No. 1 Iga Świątek in the semifinals of the Canadian Open on Saturday, beating the Polish star, 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4.

Amid the drama, however, was a moment of mass confusion at center court: As Swiatek reached for the ball, in the second set tiebreak, the opening notes to “Cotton-Eyed Joe” played through the sound system. The fans gasped.

“I just thought it was funny,” Pegula told reporters afterward. “I’ve never had that happen, let alone with ‘Cotton-Eye Joe.’ I was like: ‘Is this really happening right now?’ Of all the songs. It was just like: ‘What is going on?’

Pegula wore a look of astonishment as the referee announced the point would need to be replayed.

“It was a bummer because I hit a really good lob and she barely got it, and I had a really good play on the ball, and she was kind of out of position from the lob that I hit,” Pegula said.

Świątek went on to win the next 12 points and leveled the match at one set each. But Pegula rallied and won 16 of the last 19 points of the match to seal the victory – Pegula’s send over Świątek this year.

Pegula will play the winner of the match between Elena Rybakina or Liudmila Samsonova in the final Sunday evening. She would be the first American winner of the tournament since Serena Williams in 2013.

This time, hopefully, the match won’t be interrupted by a horrifyingly catchy country folk dance ballad from the 19th century.

The Madrid Open has apologized for a series of miscues in which the women’s stars received unequal treatment compared to the men’s players.

The women’s doubles finalists — including runners-up Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula as well as champions Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia — did not receive the opportunity to make the traditional post-match speeches, even though the men’s doubles finalists did.

“Did I think we were not going to be able to speak? No. I’ve never heard of that, like, in my life,” Pegula said Tuesday. “Even in a $10,000 Challenger final you would speak. I don’t know what century everyone was living in when they made that decision or how they actually had a conversation and decided, ‘Wow, this is a great decision we’re going to do and there’s going to be no backlash against this’.”

Gauff took to Twitter after the situation, essentially giving what would have been her speech on social media.

“Wasn’t given the chance to speak after the final today:( But thank you to the fans for supporting us and women’s tennis this week! Thanks @JLPegula for always keeping it fun on the court and hitting unreal clutch shots hahahaha Lastly, big congratulations Vika and Bia,” she wrote.

“Also thanks to my team and Jess’s team of course! Also for the ball kids, tournament staff, and everyone else who works hard behind the scenes. Twitter format doesn’t allow me to say everything I would’ve said during the speech if we had one. But just wanted to say I’m thankful.”

Azarenka also criticized the tournament organizers for the decision.

“What happened in terms of doubles was completely unacceptable,” Azarenka said Thursday. “There’s a lot of conversations, obviously, internally, of what happened and I want to see how that develops and what are the consequences of those decisions. So that’s why I don’t want to make too many comments. I believe to give people the opportunity to figure out what’s the best course of action. Do I think it’s unacceptable? It’s absolutely unacceptable.”

Yet the canceled speeches were just the final straw, capping off an inauspicious week for the tournament filled with charges of sexism.

The revealing outfits worn by ball girls prompted criticism of the tournament organizers, as did birthday cakes presented to men’s and women’s champions, which differed dramatically in size. Meanwhile, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek was scheduled to play in the early hours on Saturday morning.

The organizers of the tournament released a statement apologizing to players and fans on Thursday.

“We sincerely apologize to all the players and fans who expect more of the Mutua Madrid Open tournament,” chief executive Gerard Tsobanian said. “Not giving our women’s doubles finalists the chance to address their fans at the end of the match was unacceptable, and we have apologised directly to Victoria [Azarenka], Beatriz [Haddad Maia], Coco [Gauff] and Jessica [Pegula].

“We are working internally and with the WTA to review our protocols and are committed to improving our process moving forward. We made a mistake and this will not ever happen again.”

The WTA already had indicated that it would investigate the Madrid Open, which ran over two weeks this year for the first time. The tournament is run by sports super-agency IMG.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek continued her run of dominance at the Dubai Tennis Championships in Friday’s semifinal round, besting American teenager Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2. 

The win marked Swiatek’s sixth against Gauff in six meetings, and the 21-year-old Polish star advances to her 15th career final.

The straight-sets win was nonetheless the closest Swiatek has had at this tournament. She has dropped just 14 games through six matches. The semifinal match is the only one so far in which she has not won a set 6-0 or 6-1.

Still, Swiatek believes she still has room for improvement in her game, even as she stands at the peak of the tennis world.

“I feel I have many things to improve on the court. Sometimes it’s not going to be visible by results or the way I play,” she said.

It’s more about how I want to approach the tournaments mentally, my attitude, and developing as a player because I feel I have many things to improve on the court. Sometimes it’s not going to be visible by results or the way I play. I think I can have more options on court. These are my goals.”

Swiatek is coming off a career year in 2022, in which she won the French Open and the US Open. She lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open to start 2023 but won the Qatar Open over Jessica Pegula on Feb. 18.

Jessica Pegula exited the Australian Open in the quarterfinals, losing in straight sets to Victoria Azarenka, 6-4, 6-1.

Still, she has no time “to sulk around.” Instead, the 28-year-old American will set her sights on the doubles bracket, as she plays in a quarterfinal match with Coco Gauff at 10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

“I think it actually helps that I’m playing doubles tomorrow because I don’t have so much time to sulk around and kind of be in my feelings,” Pegula told reporters after her loss.

“I saw I’ll play third match tomorrow, so I’ve got to go get racquets strung, book practice courts, figure out what time I’m going warm up. I’ll be back here probably by noon. A quick turnaround.”

Still, after her run in doubles is done, Pegula will take the time to look back on her singles run at this year’s Australian Open. She made the quarterfinal round for the third straight year — but also failed to advance to the semifinals for the third straight year.

“Obviously I’m going to be pretty pissed about my match tonight,” Pegula said. “But tomorrow is just another chance to get another win, to get a better feeling, to go back and be in a competitive mindset, hopefully do well in the doubles. I still want to win.”

For Azarenka, the win marks her first trip to a Grand Slam semifinal since the 2020 US Open, and her first Australian Open semifinal since winning it all back in 2013.

For the third straight year, Jessica Pegula is into the Australian Open quarterfinals.

The 28-year-old American won in straight sets Sunday over Barbora Krejčíková. The No. 3 seed next will face off against Victoria Azarenka at 3 a.m. ET Tuesday in hopes of making her first semifinal at the Melbourne major.

All eyes will be on Pegula, as she is the lone American woman – and the highest seed – left in the women’s singles draw.

So what is Pegula’s path to the title? Just Women’s Sports breaks it down.

Quarterfinal: Victoria Azarenka

A former world No. 1, Azarenka has made the final at the Australian Open twice before in 2008 and 2011, but the 33-year-old has not made a major final since 2019. This year’s quarterfinal appearance marks her best run at the Australian Open since 2016 and her first appearance past the fourth round in a major since the 2020 US Open.

Azarenka and Pegula have faced off five times prior to this. Their most recent meeting came at the 2022 Guadalajara Open, which Pegula won in straight sets. She went on to win the title at the October tournament.

Semifinal: Winner of Elena Rybakina vs. Jelena Ostapenko

The good news is that Pegula won’t have to go up against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinal after Swiatek lost her round of 16 matchup. Instead, she’ll face off against either Rybakina or Ostapenko.

Rybakina won Wimbledon last year and is fresh off taking out Swiatek in a dominant, straight-set win. But Pegula has beaten Rybakina in both of their previous matchups, including a win at the 2022 Guadalajara Open.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, is a former French Open champion who is on a career-best run at the Australian Open. She ousted No. 7 seed Coco Gauff in the fourth round but has lost twice to Pegula in her career. She won their most recent meeting, though, at the Qatar Open in 2021.

Final: No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka

The highest seed left in the draw besides Pegula is No. 5 Sabalenka, who took out Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic in the fourth round. The 24-year-old Belarusian has beaten Pegula four times, most recently at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth in November.

Other possible opponents for Pegula in the championship match include Madga Linette, who took out No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia, as well as Donna Vekic and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova.