Currently underway, the FIFA Women’s World Cup not only showcases some of the best footballing talent in the world, but also some of the best stories about overcoming hurdles and hardship to succeed. And that’s not a story unique to women’s football; from motorsport to gymnastics via tennis and more, there are women who have faced societal prejudices and personal and professional challenges to become the best at what they do.

Women in sport are perfectly placed to inspire and encourage. Whether you’re sporty or not, the lessons imparted by these women, the stories of their careers, and the practical advice they give, is for us all.

Kill the Unicorn

Coach of Chelsea FC Women, Emma Hayes has led the club to 14 major trophies, meaning she knows exactly how to bring out people’s potential and how to put together a well-oiled team. In Kill the Unicorn, written with internationally best-selling author Michael Calvin and read by Emma, the coach shares her experience of managing a high-performance football team. Imparting life lessons and techniques that listeners can apply to their own lives – in both professional and personal circumstances – Kill the Unicorn is a look at women’s football as well as a guide to how to be a leader and a team player. In 2021 Emma was named Best Football Coach by FIFA and in 2022 was made an OBE for her services to football.

All In

Billie Jean King, with her 39 Grand Slam titles and her watershed defeat of Bobby Riggs in the famous 'Battle of the Sexes', is among tennis’ most celebrated players. Billie Jean played at a time when the world, and in particular the US, was undergoing rapid change and challenge, from the women’s movement and the assassinations and anti-war movements of the 1960s, to the civil rights and LGBTQ+ movements. In All In, read by Billie Jean herself, she details her journey, which not only includes tennis but activism and a lifelong commitment to fairness and social justice. From entrenched sexism and an eating disorder to facing financial ruin after she was outed she talks intimately about her life, as well as shares insights and advice on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, sexuality and more.

The Women's Football Show

With the Women’s World Cup now underway, The Women's World Cup Show is a must-listen for analysis on every key moment of the action. Hosted by broadcaster Faye Carruthers, who is talkSPORT’s England correspondent, the podcast welcomes pundits and former players for expert looks at every squad, goal and key moment in women’s football, from this year’s world cup and beyond.

How (Not) to Be Strong

A familiar face to many as a football commentator for BBC Sport and Sky Sports, Alex Scott played for the England national team at a time when women’s football was still largely ignored and prime-time television slots for matches were a distant dream. The former player made 140 appearances for the England national team, represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games, and had three spells playing for Arsenal. In How (Not) to be Strong, Alex shares the lessons that have shaped her life, from her early days playing in the football cages of East London to appearing in front of millions on television. Unfailingly honest, Alex confronts the legacy of her tumultuous childhood, provides insight into the truth behind the trophies, and shows how she tackled the challenges life threw at her.

Calling the Shots

No one is more synonymous with British tennis than Sue Barker, who began her career as a 15-year-old tennis protégé and went on to deftly handle coverage of Wimbledon every year. In 1971, Sue was sent by her coach to a championship in France, alone, and told that she’d have to win money from the competition to pay for her journey back home. Five years later she was Britain’s number one women’s tennis player. Her post-playing career included hosting BBC’s flagship sports quiz show A Question of Sport, as well as fronting the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon until 2022. In Calling the Shots, Sue takes listeners inside the world of 1970s and early 1980s tennis, and reveals the battles she fought for hard-won success in not one, but two different careers.

Good for a Girl

One of the most decorated US college athletes of all time and a national champion as a professional, Lauren Fleshman was a face of women's running for Nike before going on to create her own feminist running brand Oiselle and coaching elite young female runners. Through her career, Lauren has seen how sports systems fail young women and girls: girls drop out of sports at high rates once they hit puberty, while college athletes regularly fall victim to injury, eating disorders or mental health struggles. In Good for a Girl, Lauren discusses how she fell in love with running as a girl, and battled injuries and self-doubt to fight for her own career as well as for her fellow female athletes. Part memoir and part manifesto, Good for a Girl draws on emerging research on the physiology and psychology of young athletes and gives voice to the experiences of women in sport, with Lauren arguing that it’s time to rebuild competitive sport with women at the centre.

They Don’t Teach This

Eniola Aluko’s list of achievements – a first class honours law degree, 112 appearances for England women’s national football team, being the first female pundit on Match of the Day, and becoming a UN Women UK ambassador – would impress anyone. Eniola, who played professionally for teams including Chelsea and Juventus, represented Britain at the London 2021 Olympics, and retired in 2020. But all her successes have not come without hard work, and in They Don’t Teach This she shares the challenges and experiences of being of dual nationality and identity, and facing race and institutional prejudice. Part memoir, the book is also a manifesto for listeners to help them change the way they view challenges in their lives.

Lioness - My Journey to Glory

Growing up in North Yorkshire, Beth Mead dreamed of playing football; her illustrious career began when she was placed in the local boys’ team because her mum wanted her to run off her boundless energy. From there, Beth grew as a player, joining Middlesbrough FC's Centre of Excellence and making her professional debut at Sunderland before going on to play for England, including as part of the triumphant Euro 2022-winning team. Beth’s journey has reflected that of women’s football – growing bigger and gaining success and attention as a sport in its own right over the years. In Lioness she shares the challenges that shaped her, including being dropped from the England squad to receiving news of her mother’s cancer diagnosis. Empowering and inspirational, Lioness is a heartfelt story about filled with positive lessons.


For all the strides forward made in women’s sport over the decades, motorsports is still one of the disciplines which is male-dominated, and in which women’s participation is not lauded. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been pioneers in the area, and one of those is the incredible Rosemary Smith. She drove in the Monte Carlo rally eight times, winning the Coupe des Dames – given to the highest placed woman driver in the Monte Carlo rally – on numerous occasions. Rosemary also raced in other iconic rallies, including the London to Sydney in 1968, the World Cup London to Mexico in 1970 and the East African Safari Rally in the 1970s. And in 1965, she won the Tulip Rally, the oldest Dutch rally competition, beating all the male drivers to the finish. Her life off the track was just as fascinating, and in Driven, Rosemary reveals the inside story of her amazing career as well as her early life, a disastrous marriage and the money troubles she faced.

Courage to Soar

Multiple Olympic gold medal winner Simone Biles is an inspiration to young Black and brown gymnasts and athletes across the world. In Courage to Soar, read by actor Imani Parks, Simone talks about everything from how her faith and her family have helped her to stay positive in the face of numerous challenges, to how she went from an early childhood in foster care to gaining a spot on the US Olympic gymnastics team. As well as being her personal story, Courage to Soar is also a guide for girls and women to finding positivity and following their dreams.