USWNT legend Mia Hamm one of few athletes to enter National Women's Hall of Fame

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United States women's national soccer team star Mia Hamm is joining the National Women's Hall of Fame.

Hamm is one of nine women chosen as the class of 2021, announced Monday on International Women's Day. She joins a select few athletes as part of the hall located in Seneca Falls, New York, where the first women's rights convention was held in 1848.

Hamm joins select few athletes in Women's HOF

Hamm, a teenage phenom and face of women's soccer in the 1990s, will be the 13th athlete to enter the hall out of now 302 inductees, per the organization's database. She is the first team athlete to be inducted and notably the first USWNT player. The national team is heralded as the face of women's fight for equality and more USWNT players will likely join her in Seneca Falls in the decades to come.

Athletes in tennis, golf, figure skating and swimming have been inducted. Billie Jean King is the most high-profile athlete listed in the hall and continues her activism work for women and girls to participate in sports. Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias, an all-around athlete who went from Olympic track gold to LPGA star, are also in the hall, as are Althea Gibson and Wilma Rudolph.

The first woman to win a Triple Crown event as a horse jockey (Julie Krone) and the first Black woman to travel to both the North and South Pole (Barbara Hillary) were inducted within the last decade.

Hamm is joined by eight others in the 2021 class: Michelle Obama, Katherine Johnson, Emily Howland, Octavia Butler, Judy Chicago, Rebecca Halstead, Joy Harjo and Indra Nooyi. The first class was inducted in 1973.

Inductees are nominated by the public and judged by an interdisciplinary team of experts across the nominees' fields. They are selected for invaluable contributions to American society in arts, athletics, business, education, government, humanities, philanthropy and science.

Hamm's contributions worthy of honor

Mia Hamm, shown here signing autographs in 2001, was a national icon in the 1990s and helped bring women's soccer to what it is today. (AP Photo/Jeffrey A. Camarati)
Mia Hamm, shown here signing autographs in 2001, was a national icon in the 1990s and helped bring women's soccer to what it is today. (AP Photo/Jeffrey A. Camarati)

Girls around the country wore Mia Hamm's No. 9 in the 1990s, and for a long time she was the biggest star of American women's soccer. For any young woman growing up at the time, it was about being like Mia. She remains an icon whose athletic contributions are GOAT status and her work toward women's empowerment are still ongoing.

Hamm made her debut for the national team at the age of 15 and was 19 during the inaugural women's World Cup in 1991 that the U.S. won. They added an iconic World Cup title in 1999 that arguably changed the face of women's soccer in the country and left a lasting legacy and influence on players for decades.

She's a two-time Olympic gold medalist (1996, 2004) with four NCAA championships at North Carolina and a long list of player of the year accolades. Hamm was the face of the first women's professional soccer league in the U.S. and retired in 2004.

"Hamm has continued to serve as an inspiration for young girls looking to compete in athletics," the Women's Hall of Fame wrote. "She has maintained an active presence within the soccer community and has served as an outspoken advocate for Title IX and gender equality."

Hamm ranks third on the international all-time goals list with 158. She made 276 caps (appearances) for the national team, ranking fifth all-time. As female athletes reach new heights and face fewer obstacles than 20 years ago, Hamm's status as a role model and glass-breaking advocate grows.

She is currently a co-owner of MLS team Los Angeles FC and a global ambassador for FC Barcelona. The story of Hamm and the 1999 World Cup team is being turned into a movie for Netflix.

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