by Matt Alderton | July 17, 2019
On July 7, 2019, a chorus of hoots and hollers reverberated through bars and living rooms across the country when the United States women's national soccer team defeated the Netherlands, 2-0, in the World Cup final in Lyon, France. Days later, thousands of fans congregated along Broadway in New York City for a celebratory parade that included floats, bagpipers, motorcyclists and scads of confetti.
The parade culminated in a rally at City Hall, where World Cup MVP and top scorer Megan Rapinoe (pictured) delivered a stirring speech to inspired onlookers.

"We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We've got to listen more and talk less," she said. "It's our responsibility to make this world a better place … Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you've ever been before."

Rapinoe's rousing words and fans' spirited reception sent an important message to meeting professionals everywhere: Female athletes can be just as effective as male athletes -- not only on the field during matches, but also on stage during meetings.

To find out just how impactful women athletes can be, consider booking one as your next speaker. Here are five whose winning keynotes promise to score big points with attendees:

Megan Rapinoe

Rapinoe herself is available for bookings via the Big Speak speakers bureau. In addition to being a member of the United States women's national soccer team, she is captain of Reign FC, a professional women's soccer team based in Tacoma, Wash. Her 2019 World Cup win is only the latest in a long string of athletic achievements. She also helped the United States win the World Cup in 2015 and a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. For her performance in this year's World Cup, she received both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot, awarded for making the tournament's best play and for being its highest scorer, respectively. (Big Speak, 805-965-1400, bigspeak.com)

Laila Ali

Muhammad Ali wasn't just a legendary boxer -- he also was one of the greatest American athletes of the 20th century. His daughter, Laila Ali, is equally impressive. A four-time undefeated boxing world champion, her record in the ring includes 24 wins -- 21 of them by knockout -- and zero losses. She's also a mom, a businesswoman, a television host and a chef who recently authored her own cookbook, Food for Life: Delicious and Healthy Comfort Food From My Table to Yours. (Speak Inc., 800-677-3324, speakinc.com)

Amy Van Dyken-Rouen

Swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen is a six-time Olympic champion and one of only a small number of Olympians whose medals are all gold. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2007 and into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2014, she was injured in an ATV accident that severed her spinal cord and left her paralyzed from the waist down. According to her speakers bureau, Goodman Speakers, she draws on both her achievements and her injuries to teach audiences "the importance of not giving other people the power to tell you what you can't do." (Goodman Speakers, 860-687-1116, goodmanspeakers.com)

Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Another female Olympian whose inspirational story will resonate with meeting audiences is track-and-field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, whom Sports Illustrated once called "The Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century." During her career in the heptathlon and long-jump events, she won six Olympic medals -- three of them gold -- and four World Champion titles. What's more, she was the first woman in history to earn more than 7,000 points in the heptathlon -- a record she still holds more than 20 years later. (Speak Inc., 800-677-3324, speakinc.com)

Serena Williams

Tennis superstar Serena Williams is the ultimate female athlete. During her distinguished tennis career, she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles -- one shy of Margaret Court's record of 24 -- and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She's also won 783 professional singles matches, 185 professional doubles matches, 72 World Tennis Association singles titles, 23 WTA doubles titles and four Olympic gold medals. The former Sports Illustrated "Sportsperson of the Year" also is an entrepreneur, a fashion designer and a philanthropist. (WME Speakers, 212-903-1400, wmespeakers.com)