Women’s beach volleyball is not just about girls in bikinis, photos of suggestive bodies, and stuff like that. We wrote this post to show you what volleyball is really like, and we hope you will contribute by reading all the way through and sharing it on your social networks.
In this post, you will read about the following:
- A brief history about the origins of women’s beach volleyball.
- The best beach volleyball players from around the world.
- The players with the best record in history.
- The women’s beach volleyball apparel controversy.
So let’s get to it!
A brief history of women’s beach volleyball
Beach volleyball has two possible origins:
One was in Hawaii in 1915, and the other in Uruguay a year earlier.
In addition, there are other stories that point to the Californian coasts, as well as in Brazil and France, where the first federations were established.
It was precisely in Brazil where the first international competitions began, from 1987 to 1996; a kind of unofficial beach volleyball tournament. In Barcelona 1992, beach volleyball was an exhibition sport, and in 1996 it was integrated into the Olympic Games.
After the success of the Atlanta Olympic Games, the world championship was established in 1997. In contrast, the European Championship has been held since 1993, and 1994 for its women’s version.
We could talk at length about these competitions, winners, and the like, but that’s all information you can find anywhere.
Now, however, I want to talk about some of the players who have made history in women’s beach volleyball. We’ll start with the most successful couple today in the world of women’s beach volleyball.
Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.
This German couple has not stopped reaping successes since they were formalized as official partners in 2013. They earned the European Bronze that same year, and two gold medals in the following ones.
Laura was born in East Berlin while the wall was still standing. Kira is from Essen, and it looks like the beach volleyball gene is in her family; they’re like Jedis. Both his brother and sister compete in this sport professionally.
It was undoubtedly 2016, the year of their total consecration, where they won the Gold Medal in Rio de Janeiro. They did it on the Arena of Copacabana beach, and they beat the Brazilians and local idols Agatha and Barbara: it was an amazing success.
During 2017, they won the World Championship in Vienna for the first time. This time they defeated the Americans, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, in the final.
Laura is 32 years old and Kira is 27, so it seems that women’s beach volleyball has these queens for a few more years.
And now we come to the U.S. Beach Volleyball players.
This Californian was the player with the most tournament wins in history. According to Wikipedia, she received 112 trophies. The couple she made with Kerri Walsh(Jennings) is the most successful in this sport in the women’s category.
What do we call the couple who won the gold at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, 2008 in Beijing, and 2012 in London? The Usaín Bolt of Beach Volleyball?
In addition, the 2003 World Championships in Rio, the 2005 World Championships in Berlin, and the 2007 World Championships in Gstaad.
I can think of another nickname: The Eddy Merckx of Women’s Volleyball. Remember what they used to call the Belgian cyclist? Indeed, the Cannibal, however, May-Treanor is nicknamed “The Turtle”. We don’t know why.
Her career began in 1999 with Holly McPeak. They competed in several AVP Tour and FIVB Tour tournaments and even won a fair bit of them. They finished a deserving 5th place at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
But everything changed in 2001 when she joined her alma mater.
Kerri Walsh (Jennings)
Together they achieved incredible success in beach volleyball.
Kerri Walsh Jennings adopted her second surname after her marriage to beach volleyball player Casey Jennings. She continued her career after Misty’s retirement and surpassed her in terms of number of victories.
To the three Olympic gold medals, we must add a fourth one: the bronze medal obtained in Rio 2016 together with April Ross, who we will talk about later.
Walsh Jennings surpassed the record of 112 tournaments won by May-Treanor in 2012, when they won the Grand Slam final in Xiamen, reaching a total of 113 wins in a row. She currently has 133 victories.
Kerri Walsh’s Olympic career also began at Sydney 2000, but in this case, far from the beach. She was a member of the U.S. indoor volleyball team.
California is the home of women’s beach volleyball in the US, which is where April was born in 1982. She is a great player who had the bad luck to coincide at the same time as the aforementioned couple.
However, she was the world champion in 2009, and a silver medalist at the London 2012 Games. In the final competitions in Rio, she finished in third place alongside Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Her career began in indoor team volleyball until 2008 when she met Jennifer Kessy, with whom she achieved great success with, including defeating Treanor-Walsh in the semi-final of the AVP Santa Barbara.
After Misty May-Treanor’s retirement, April must have thought, “If you can’t handle the enemy, partner with her.” She then paired up with Kerri Walsh.
No doubt a brilliant player, nicknamed The Boss.
Let´s move “a little bit” to the South
This Australian player is the first woman from her country to compete in five Olympic Games. Her career has been plagued by victories, including a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Is there any better way to win the Olympic gold than at home?
Later, she won the bronze at the World Championships in Rio in 2003 with Nicole Sanderson. She then changed her teammate again to join Tamsin Bernett, finishing 5th at Beijing 2008. In London 2012 they were eliminated in the first rounds in her fifth Olympic Games.
But her greatest successes were achieved together with his first partner
Kerri was born in 1965 in Adelaide, also very close to Sydney where she had her greatest success with Natalie Cook.
Her career began in traditional volleyball, and she was recognized as one of Australia’s top players in 1990. She had a very complicated injury in 1992 that forced her to retire early. However, her knee did hold up well in the sand on the beach, and this led her to pairing with Natalie Cook.
Together they won the Bronze medal in the first Olympic Games where beach volleyball was an official sport in Atlanta 1996. That same year they finished second in the world championships.
After that, they separated until 2000, when they thoroughly prepared for the games that would take place in their country. In the Olympic tournament, they gave no choice to their opponents and easily won the Gold. Gold that would also earn them the most important decoration of their native country: The Order of Australia.
After these Olympic Games, Pottharst retired and Natalie looked for other couples, the ones mentioned earlier.
That’s a pretty good resume for these two Australians, isn’t it?
Now, let´s move to one of the most important countries in this sport.
A native of Rio de Janeiro, this player also started out in indoor volleyball, playing professionally in the Italian league. Until 1995, she switched to beach volleyball and began a successful career with her partner, Shelda Bede, whom she won 114 titles with.
This hit gave them a place in the Guinness Book of Records until May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings broke it.
Born in Fortaleza in 1973, this Brazilian woman was lucky enough to cross her sporting life with Behar.
Apart from the barbarity of the tournaments she won, her most notable successes were the two silver medals at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 games. But if you think about it, this may not leave them with a good taste in their mouths.
However, they won the world championship twice, in Marseille 1999 and Klagenfurt in 2001. Plus another silver and bronze in Rio and Los Angeles respectively.
They undoubtedly had a successful career.
Let´s talk now about two of their peers.
Larissa Franca and Juliana Silva
Talking about Brazil in regards to beach volleyball brings about fear for any opponent.
These two players have the honor of having defeated “the greatest” in a world championship final – not Muhammad Ali, but the aforementioned May-Treanor/Walsh-Jennings duo. This hit was achieved in 2011 in Rome.
The following year they won bronze at the London Olympics, and had previously won two silver medals and bronze in world championships. They have been together since 2004, and despite their fall in the last few years, they can still fight back.
This list doesn’t end here, though. We are looking forward to your comments about the players you think should be on it. But before you leave your impressions, read on.
The controversy about women’s beach volleyball clothing
We have tried to investigate this as much as possible and we tried to reach a consensus, but the truth is that we have not succeeded in doing so.
Until the publication of this article, searching for “Women’s Beach Volleyball” on Google always shows results of players in bikinis, and content that sexualizes the sport. We don’t like it, and that’s why we’ve created this text so that with your help, we can put it on Google’s first page.
In this article, it´s highlighted the fact that initially there were very strict rules about players’ bikinis. Even the centimetres that the bottom part had to have.
Beach volleyball started out being played originally in swimwear, so it is normal that the first amateur competitions were like this. Kerri Walsh is a defender of this argument. Her literal words are,
“Original beach volleyball was played in bikinis and shorts, I don’t know what else they want us to wear…”
It seems obvious that the factor that is responsible for this controversy is the nature of the Internet. Everything becomes viral in just a few clicks and seconds, and digital photography has also played its part as well.
Starting in 2016, the International Beach Volleyball Federation made changes to its regulations regarding women’s clothing, and the types of garments that are permitted. At the Rio games, the Egyptian women’s team, Nada Meawad and Doaa Elghobashy, wore long sportswear and adapted the traditional veil to compete in.
Going back in time, let’s look at this other article. New Zealand player Anna Scarlett, referring to a competition she was playing in, said the media focused more on the players’ bikinis than on the competition itself.
“I find it frustrating and I know that more players do too. I suppose, unfortunately, the sexual aspect has sold out a lot. But if that makes a lot of people interested in the game, it’s a good start.”
How would you take this comment? Is it better that people go see women’s beach volleyball just for the bodies of the players or instead having empty arenas?
No doubt this controversy was big at the time. And in this regard, Kerri Walsh also made another statement to be taken into account.
“When we play volleyball in the sand, it’s 100 degrees. I think we just have to educate the public, separate the grain from the chaff and make sure we’re working hard and not taking advantage of sexualization, because it’s inherent in any way.”
And perhaps this is the key to everything: educating the public and not just seeing female bodies in bikinis. Because girls and women train very hard, for many hours, and sacrificing several aspects of their personal lives to achieve their sports goals.
Do you agree with that?
If so, I’d ask you to please share this article, either on your social networks or on a blog where you can link it. Can you help us put this at the top of Google’s list? We’re counting on it.
We hope you liked it.
See you soon!