The 2023 ESPY Nominees have been revealed and it’s a star-studded field. Female athletes are scattered throughout 16 different categories. This year, there are fewer categories than years prior with sports such as tennis, golf, and soccer being combined for men’s and women’s sports. Additionally, despite there being a Best WNBA Player award, there is no Best NWSL Player award. The awards ceremony will take place on Wednesday, July 12, at 8 PM EST on ABC. Fans can vote for their favorite player, or performance, to help decide the winners.
The four nominees for the Best Athlete, Women’s Sports are Mikaela Shiffrin, Sophia Smith, Iga Świątek, and A’ja Wilson.
Shiffrin cemented herself as the best alpine skier of all time this season, surpassing both Lindsey Vonn for most World Cup wins on the women’s side and Ingemar Stenmark’s record for all-time World Cup wins. She finished the season with 88 World Cup wins, her fifth overall World Cup title, and her first gold medal in the giant slalom at the World Championships.
Sophia Smith was a sensation for both club and country this year, having a breakout year with the Portland Thorns and leading them to their three championships. She won NWSL MVP after a campaign that included 14 goals in 18 total appearances. For the USWNT, Smith scored an amazing 11 goals in 17 appearances including back-to-back-to-back braces in games against Colombia, Jamaica, and Nigeria.
Świątek had an extremely strong 2022 season, accumulating a 37-match win streak, reaching and maintaining status as the World No. 1, and winning two majors: the French Open and the US Open. Świątek continued her dominance into 2023, becoming only the fourth woman in WTA history to be ranked world No. 1 for 40 or more consecutive weeks in their first stint as the top-ranked player. She went on to defend her French Open title without dropping a set on her way to the final.
A’ja Wilson helped to lead the Aces to their first-ever WNBA championship while winning her second MVP and first Defensive Player of the Year award on the way. She averaged 19.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks and led the league with 17 double-doubles.
All four of these athletes find themselves nominated in another category with Mikaela Shiffrin being nominated for “Best Record-Breaking Performance,” Wilson nominated for “Best WNBA Player,” Smith for “Best Soccer Player,” and Świątek for “Best Tennis Player.” Shiffrin is the only female athlete in the Best Record-Breaking Performance category alongside the likes of Novak Djokovic, LeBron James, and Max Verstappen. Wilson is joined in the Best WNBA Player category by Skylar Diggins-Smith, Candace Parker, and Breanna Stewart. Nominated with Smith for Best Soccer Player is Barcelona star Aitana Bonmatí. Bonmatí helped Barcelona win another UWCL title as well as dominating Spain in Liga F. Świątek is joined in the Best Tennis Player category by Belarus’s Aryna Sabalenka who is the current No. 2 in the world and won the Australian Open earlier this season.
Caitlin Clark showed the world that the 2022-23 college basketball season was hers, only missing out on the final trophy, a national championship. Sweeping the National Player of the Year awards, it is no surprise to see Clark nominated for both the “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” and “Best Breakthrough Athlete.”
She is joined in Best Breakthrough Athlete by LSU’s Angel Reese. Alongside Clark for Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports are Jordy Bahl of Oklahoma Softball after leading the Sooners to their third straight national championship, Izzy Scane of Northwestern Lacrosse after leading the Wildcats to their first title in 11 years in her first season back from her ACL injury, and Trinity Thomas of Florida Gators Gymnastics who tied the record for most perfect 10 scores in NCAA history with 28 this past season. Thomas’s record-tying perfect 10 is nominated under Best Play.
For the best championship performance, Rose Zhang has been nominated for her stellar first professional appearance. Zhang won her final NCAA national championship with Stanford this spring and immediately turned around to become the first woman in 72 years to win her first professional match. She defeated Jennifer Kupcho in the 2023 Mizuho Americas Open, in a two-hole sudden-death playoff just weeks after becoming the first woman in NCAA women’s golf history to win the individual national championship twice.
Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun is nominated for Best Comeback Athlete after returning in 2022 better than ever from a torn Achilles tendon. She only played in six games during the previous season but started all 36 games of 2022 and helped Connecticut make a run all the way to the WNBA Finals. She was named a WNBA All-Star and led the team in assists, steals, and minutes played. Thomas’s presence is integral to the success of the Connecticut Sun which she showed in her incredible comeback season.
All of the women's sports athletes and teams that received nominations are listed below.
Best Athlete, Women’s Sports
Mikaela Shiffrin, Ski
Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns
Iga Świątek, Tennis
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Caitlin Clark, Iowa Women’s Basketball
Angel Reese, LSU Women’s Basketball
Best Record-Breaking Performance
Mikaela Shiffrin breaks the record for the most World Cup victories with her 87th win
Best Championship Performance
Rose Zhang, LPGA
Best Comeback Athlete
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun
Las Vegas Aces, WNBA
LSU Tigers, Women’s Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners, NCAA Softball
Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports
Jordy Bahl, Oklahoma Softball
Caitlin Clark, Iowa’s Women’s Basketball
Izzy Scane, Northwestern Lacrosse
Trinity Thomas, Florida Gators Gymnastics
Best Athlete with a Disability
Erica McKee, Sled Hockey Team
Susannah Scaroni, Wheelchair Racing
Best WNBA Player
Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury
Candace Parker, Chicago Sky (Current LV Aces)
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm (Current NY Liberty)
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
Brittany Force, NHRA
Best UFC Fighter
Best Soccer Player
Aitana Bonmatí, Spain/Barcelona
Sophia Smith, USWNT/Portland Thorns
Best Tennis Player