The most stunning photos across women's sports from the last month - US Open, Paralympics, WNBA Playoffs, and more

·21 min read
Austalian Rhiannan Iffland dives from the 21.5 meter platform during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
Austalian Rhiannan Iffland dives from the 21.5 meter platform during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Romina Amato/Red Bull via Getty Images
  • With the US Open introducing new tennis stars to the world, the WNBA playoffs ramping up, and the Paralympics taking Tokyo by storm, the last month has been busy in the world of women's sports.

  • Insider spoke with 16 of Getty Images' sports photographers about how they captured some of the most stunning shots in women's sports over this past month.

  • The photos below showcase breakout tennis stars Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez dominating the US Open, Paralympians competing for gold, WNBA stars competing for a bid to the 2021 WNBA Finals, and more.

  • Here are 42 eye-catching Getty Images photos from women's sports throughout September.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

9/1: Cyprus' Karolina Pelendritou reacts after winning the gold medal and setting a world record in the women's 100m Breastroke at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Cyprus' Karolina Pelendritou reacts after winning the gold medal and setting a world record in the women's 100m Breastroke at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for New Zealand Paralympic Committee

From the photographer, Dean Mouhtaropoulos:

This is one of my favorite images from the pool. Karolina Pelendritou of Team Cyprus had won some races earlier that I covered so knew if she won again, there would be a quick burst of emotion. This time I wanted the background different so got as close to the ground as I could and waited for the split second after she heard the result as this was one of the visually impaired category races.

Once the announcement with the official result came over the PA, Pelendritou burst into celebration splashing the water and I was lucky to have the water surround her with a nice shape making a decent photo into one I'm very proud of.

9/1: Americans Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda look on during a practice round ahead of the start of The Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Americans Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda look on during a practice round ahead of the start of The Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

From the photographer, Maddie Meyer:

My first few internships were in Washington DC covering politics before I switched to covering sport full time. With politics so much is about layering and putting different politicians next to each other to tell a story, I followed Nelly and Jessica Korda for a few holes during a practice round ahead of the Solheim Cup. Fans were mistaking the sisters for each other as they're both tall, blonde, and incredibly talented golfers.

What struck me was how comfortable and close they are with each other. They seemed to be able to communicate with just a glance as they practiced putts and assessed greens. I made this frame stacking their profiles together as they prepared for the big event to begin the next day.

9/1: Dutch badminton player Megan Hollander competes at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Dutch badminton player Megan Hollander competes at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

From the photographer, Lintao Zhang:

I tried many angles to get this perfect moment during the Badminton Women's Singles SU5. What impressed me the most was the combination of the beautiful action from Netherlands athlete Megan Hollander and the logo of the Paralympic Games.

9/2: New York Liberty rookies DiDi Richards and Michaela Onyenwere react after scoring against the Seattle Storm.

New York Liberty rookies DiDi Richards and Michaela Onyenwere react after scoring against the Seattle Storm.
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

From the photographer, Steph Chambers:

Oftentimes, the best picture is yet to come after a play has stopped. That's usually when emotion erupts from players, and it's important to follow through on the key player as they react with their teammates, like DiDi Richards here.

9/2: English golfer Charley Hull plays a shot for Team Europe ahead of The Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

English golfer Charley Hull plays a shot for Team Europe ahead of The Solheim Cup at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

From the photographer, Maddie Meyer:

I don't photograph a lot of women's golf but really enjoyed covering the Solheim Cup. In this moment, Team Europe's Charley Hull's braid stood out to me immediately -- I love how it swings through the air when she drives the ball off of the tee. It can be hard to illustrate the strength it takes to play golf, so having her hair as an aid to show momentum was helpful.

9/2: The Dallas Wings' Kayla Thornton rebounds the ball against Atlanta Dream forward Monique Billings.

The Dallas Wings' Kayla Thornton rebounds the ball against Atlanta Dream forward Monique Billings.
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

From the photographer, Tom Pennington:

This game was the first time I had been able to photograph basketball from the court level since the start of the pandemic. This was a perfect game to shoot from the court. This position allows photographers to shoot up at the athletes which proves a great angle to show the athleticism of these world-class athletes.

This image was captured as Kayla Thornton of the Dallas Wings and Monique Billings of the Atlanta Dream were both trying to rebound the ball after a missed shot. Thornton was able to overpower Billings and secure the rebound for the Wings.

9/2: Japanese long jumper Kaede Maegawa competes at the Paralympics in Tokyo.

Japanese long jumper Kaede Maegawa competes at the Paralympics in Tokyo.
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

From the photographer, Alex Pantling:

This frame stands out to me mainly due to Kaede Maegawa's body shape. It really shows off the athleticism and skill of a Paralympian. The momentum of her hair and body make shows her power and like she is jumping out of the image at the viewer.

9/2: Kylee Shook and Epiphanny Prince battle for a ball during a WNBA game between the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm.

Kylee Shook and Epiphanny Prince battle for a ball during a WNBA game between the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm.
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

From the photographer, Steph Chambers:

One way to convey peak action in sports photography is to capture body movement. In this photo, the two players' hair shows their opposite movement as they struggle for the ball that looks still in between them.

9/3: Holly Robinson of Team New Zealand throws to win Paralympic gold in the Javelin.

Holly Robinson of Team New Zealand throws to with the gold medal as she competes in the Javelin at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for New Zealand Paralympic Committee

From the photographer, Dean Mouhtaropoulos:

This is one of my favorite photos from the Paralympic Games. I was working for Team New Zealand and specifically wanted a photo of Holly Robinson that would be different. I placed a remote camera looking up, using the sky and stadium lights as a background, with an educated guess at where Robinson would let go of the javelin.

Unfortunately, or in this case, fortunately, it rained quite heavily. When there was a slight delay, I got a chance to dry the lens and moved the camera a touch as my first guess at her launch spot was a little off. Holly was one of the first athletes to throw after this small change, and not long after I got this shot, the lens filled up with water again making the rest of the photos from the remote unusable. Luck definitely played a role in capturing this image.

9/3: Wheelchair tennis star Jordanne Whiley of Team Great Britain reacts to winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Wheelchair tennis star Jordanne Whiley of Team Great Britain reacts to winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Naomi Baker/Getty Images

From the photographer, Naomi Baker:

This image is of Jordanne Whiley of Team Great Britain winning the bronze medal after her victory over Aniek van Koot of Team Netherlands. As a photographer, when you're planning ahead for the match point moment, there's a lot to think about especially when you are the only person covering the event.

Most of the time, we have numerous photographers covering different angles to make sure we capture the moment in several different ways. For this moment, I chose to go up in the empty spectator stand behind Whiley's team box as I knew she would celebrate that way.

9/3: Kumudu P. Dissanayake Mudiyanselage of Sri Lanka competes in the long jump at the Paralympics in Tokyo.

Kumudu P. Dissanayake Mudiyanselage of Sri Lanka competes in the long jump at the Paralympics in Tokyo.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

From the photographer, Carmen Mandato:

The long jump offers beautiful imagery of the athletes' midair. An editor of mine noted that the landing better captured the strength and intensity of the jumper. The hope in focusing on the landing was to draw attention to the power being harnessed by the jumper.

You can see from her expression and the direction of the sand, the force in which she lands with. This for me is often one of the main things I'm looking for in action coverage, isolating a moment to better show the power harnessed that would otherwise be lost to the eye when viewing the sequence.

9/3: American Elizabeth Marks tears up after winning gold in the 100m Backstroke at the Tokyo Paralympics.

American Elizabeth Marks tears up after winning gold in the 100m Backstroke at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

From the photographer, Alex Pantling:

Being lucky enough to be so up close and personal during the medal ceremonies, I really got to appreciate how much a medal of any color meant to each individual athlete. There are so many athletes competing in the Paralympics that most don't medal, so those that do you can really feel their emotion as they are recognized and honored on the podium. I think that this shows here.

9/3: Portuguese athlete Claudia Santos competes in the Long Jump at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Portuguese athlete Claudia Santos competes in the Long Jump at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

From the photographer, Carmen Mandato:

With the long jump competition, there are mainly two vantage points — this one via remote and straight on. The hope in adding the remote angle is it better showcases the athleticism of the athlete and it's a vantage point we aren't allowed to access once competition starts.

For the long jump, the hope is always to document the jump with the cleanest composition in the most compelling manner. I felt the raindrops on the lens helped narrate the story of a swampy night of competition.

A lot of times it's just luck, the lights behind helped add separation and Portugal's Claudia Santos happened to jump at a clearer part of the glass. I like the idea of her power and the elements in one frame.

9/3: Naomi Osaka screams in frustration during a US Open match.

Naomi Osaka
Elsa/Getty Images

From the photographer, Elsa Garrison:

Naomi Osaka had been struggling her last few matches. She had a rough outing at the Tokyo Olympics and that carried over into the U.S. Open. I find that reaction images are just as telling as an action image. Osaka and Leylah Fernandez were in a tiebreak when Osaka lost this point. She ended up losing the match to the surging Fernandez. I thought this picture illustrates her frustration perfectly.

9/4: American Wheelchair Basketball players pose with their bronze medals from the Tokyo Paralympics.

American Wheelchair Basketball players pose with their bronze medals from the Tokyo Paralympics.
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

9/4: Australian Rhiannon Clarke reacts after competing in the 400m in the rain at the Tokyo Paralympics.

Australian Rhiannon Clarke reacts after competing in the 400m in the rain at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Alex Pantling/Getty Images

From the photographer, Alex Pantling:

This photo to me demonstrates how athletes can still smile in the face of adversity. Team Australia's Rhiannon Clarke put on a brave face in what was incredibly tough conditions during the Women's 400m - T38 Final. Clarke's squat-like position, coupled with the backdrop of pouring rain and another athlete laying down on track shows just how mentally and physically tough these athletes are.

9/5: American golfer Jennifer Kupcho plays a shot off the tee at the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

American golfer Jennifer Kupcho plays a shot off the tee at the Solheim Cup at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

From the photographer, Maddie Meyer:

I made this image during the Solheim Cup in Toledo, Ohio. It was such a fun event to cover, and my first time photographing match play golf. So much of the event is about emotion between teammates, but I also wanted to take advantage of the beautiful morning light and make some scenic photos. The course was relatively flat, and without many trees, so I had to get creative in adding layers through the reads in front of Jennifer Kupcho.

9/5: The American volleyball team celebrates winning a point during the Tokyo Paralympic gold-medal match.

USA paralympic volleyball.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

From the photographer, Dean Mouhtaropoulos:

As my first time shooting sitting volleyball, I sat and watched the first 30 minutes just to see what was happening in terms of action, reactions and game play. Once I had a figured out what background I wanted to shoot on, I found my spot and waited for the reactions to winning points, which always brought on a burst of emotion. This photo shows Bethany Zummo of Team USA celebrating with teammates after winning a point, and I was lucky for the shape to surround Zummo as one of the stars of the team.

9/5: Spanish tennis star Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning a point during a US Open match.

Spanish tennis star Garbine Muguruza celebrates winning a point during a US Open match.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

From the photographer, Sarah Stier:

Clean tennis photos are hard to shoot, but this moment lined up perfectly. Garbine Muguruza and her opponent were going back and forth, and you could tell that both were getting frustrated. When Muguruza made a great shot, and won the point, her reaction of pure excitement and brief break in that frustration gave me a perfect, clean photograph of raw emotion.

9/6: Tam Nakano and Takumi Iroha compete during the Pro-Wrestling "Stardom" at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Tam Nakano and Takumi Iroha compete during the Pro-Wrestling "Stardom" at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

9/6: Team Europe stars Matilda Castren and Madelene Sagstrom celebrate with the Solheim Cup after beating Team USA in the event.

Team Europe stars Matilda Castren and Madelene Sagstrom celebrate with the Solheim Cup after beating Team USA in the event.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

From the photographer, Maddie Meyer:

Here, Matilda Castren and Madelene Sagstrom celebrate Team Europe's victory over the United States in the Solheim Cup. The event was a first for me, I was new to covering match play golf which pits countries against each other. The Europeans played well all weekend, maintaining a steady lead and getting it done in the end.

They were reserved on the course, surrounded overwhelmingly by American fans who were hopeful for a home team win. After the trophy ceremony they really gave it up! Draped in their countries' flags and being showered in champagne, the reigning champions held onto the Solheim Cup for another year.

9/7: Leylah Hernandez reacts during a US Open match.

Leylah Fernandez reacts during a US Open match.
Elsa/Getty Images

From the photographer, Elsa Garrison:

I had shot a couple of Leylah Fernandez's matches prior to this one so I knew how she would celebrate. She was a crowd favorite at the U.S. Open and in this image, she is celebrating a point won over Elina Svitolina and is rallying the crowd to cheer. During semifinal matches such as this one, every point is important so as a photographer I look for those reaction images that can tell another side of the match.

9/8: Phoenix Mercury players celebrate beating the Atlanta Dream in a close WNBA game.

Phoenix Mercury Shey Peddy.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

9/8: Emma Raducanu plays a shot during a US Open match.

Emma Raducanu US Open.
Al Bello/Getty Images

From the photographer, Al Bello:

I shot this image from a position behind the service line. It's located underground behind a cutout on the wall, out of view for the public. I noticed the light was right for this angle. The background was black, and the sun was in a good position to highlight Emma Raducanu. I just needed a good stretch and needed to time the picture right to get the ball on the racquet.

I also shot at a very shallow depth of field to blur out the background and focus just on Raducanu. It's a shot that you have to be patient as it may take most of or all of the match to get the player in the right position. Luckily, she did stretch, and I was able to time the photo right

9/9: Leylah Fernandez reacts to advancing to the 2021 US Open championship match.

Leylah Fernandez.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

From the photographer, Sarah Stier:

Leylah Annie Fernandez was having a fairytale tournament run and when she defeated a powerful Aryna Sabalenka to advance to the US Open Finals, I knew she would react. At 19 years old, this was going to be her first final.

Many players that I've photographed who have consistently reached finals or semifinals won't typically react as big since they aren't as surprised by it. But with Fernandez, this was a career-changing moment for her, and my side-on angle captured it perfectly. It was a great moment for Canadian tennis and was an incredible achievement to witness and capture.

9/10: Japanese golfer Minami Katsu hits a tee shot during JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup at Shizu Hills Country Club in Hitachiomiya, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Japanese golfer Minami Katsu hits a tee shot during JLPGA Championship Konica Minolta Cup at Shizu Hills Country Club in Hitachiomiya, Japan.
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

9/11: Emma Raducanu becomes emotional upon winning the US Open title - her first career Grand Slam championship.

Emma Raducanu US Open.
Elsa/Getty Images

From the photographer, Elsa Garrison:

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain was a qualifier. That means she had to win 3 matches just to qualify for the U.S Open draw. To reach the finals, she had to then win 6 more matches. This image was from match point after she defeated Leylah Fernandez to win the U.S. Open singles title.

During qualifying and the tournament, she never lost a set, which is pretty remarkable. This image shows how overcome with emotion she was after winning, almost like she couldn't believe it and makes you feel proud of all that she had accomplished.

9/11: Emma Raducanu reacts to winning the US Open - the first Grand Slam championship of her young career.

Emma Raducanu US Open.
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

From the photographer, Sarah Stier:

I always feel so much pressure at the end of a championship tennis match because there are so many possible outcomes for how and where the winning athlete will celebrate. And since it's a championship, you obviously want to get it right!

I hoped Emma would win on the side of the court where her player's box was because during most of her previous matches, she had been reacting toward her family and coaches rather than toward any specific areas of the crowd. I didn't know if she would raise her hands in celebration, if she would fall to the court, or if she would react at all.

I chose a spot to photograph that was elevated directly behind her player's box, and lucky enough for me, she fell to the court, smiling, looking right towards her team. I was just so happy to have captured that smile because it was so brief — she quickly covered her face with her hands.

9/12: Los Angeles Sparks guard Erica Wheeler sends Seattle Storm point guard Sue Bird stumbling with a crossover.

Erica Wheeler Sue Bird.
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

From the photographer, Meg Oliphant:

I covered the majority of the LA Sparks' season in the next-door Convention Center with a makeshift setup and during Covid-19 protocols that didn't allow me to photograph from the floor, so it was great getting back courtside at Staples Center. The intensity of the game is so high from the floor, making for photos that put the viewer in the middle of the action.

The Sparks were pushing for a postseason spot and I knew the game against Seattle would be intense. I was keeping an eye on legendary Sue Bird, and Erica Wheeler had a great game, scoring 17-points this game to help the Sparks win. She's a really tough player and I love getting to capture the speed and agility these players bring to every play.

9/14: Australian Sally Fitzgibbons competes in the Rip Curl WSL Finals in San Clemente, California.

Australian Sally Fitzgibbons competes in the Rip Curl WSL Finals in San Clemente, California.
Pat Nolan/World Surf League via Getty Images

9/17: England's Leah Williamson makes a tackle during a World Cup qualifying match.

England's Leah Williamson makes a tackle during a World Cup qualifying match.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

From the photographer, Catherine Ivill:

This photograph was taken at a FIFA World Cup qualification match between England and North Macedonia, but more importantly it was the first match for the players to impress the newly appointed England manager. I love the determination and fearlessness that this picture shows, and for Leah Williamson was one of many moments in the match where she led by example as she captained the national team for the first time.

9/17: Bethany England celebrates scoring her second goal of the match for England.

Bethany England.
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

From the photographer, Catherine Ivill:

This was after a second goal for Bethany England in a match that finished 8-0. As a photographer, there are many things to consider when choosing a position to shoot from, players will generally run towards fans to celebrate but this can leave photographers with a pretty rubbish background when stadiums still aren't full. But after so long without fans and celebration pictures, I took that risk and the background ended up fitting the picture very nicely.

9/20: Ruaka and Shuri compete during the Women's Pro-Wrestling "Stardom" at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

Ruaka and Shuri compete during the Women's Pro-Wrestling "Stardom" at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

9/21: Sophia Smith (left) of the USWNT celebrates her first career international goal as Paraguay's Tania Riso grimaces.

Sophia Smith
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

From the photographer, Emilee Chinn:

This photo shows the raw and unfiltered emotions of athletes, both the positive and the negative aspect. Sophia Smith of the United States, on the left, was celebrating her first career international goal which was a big and exciting moment for her. Tania Riso of Paraguay, on the right, is reacting to the United States scoring their second goal in under six minutes in the first half of the game.

To me, this image is really impactful because you can visually see the emotion and heart these athletes put into their game and how it affects them. It directly depicts "competition" showing the highs and the lows.

9/21: USWNT midfielder Andi Sullivan heads the ball.

Andi Sullivan.
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

From the photographer, Emilee Chinn:

Images of soccer players heading the ball are some of my favorite to take when photographing the sport. I usually aim to capture header photos when the ball is directly making contact with the athlete's head, but I liked the composition of this image and how Andi Sullivan's hair directly leads your eyes to where the ball is at, and the position of the ball leads your eyes to the TQL stadium to give a sense of place.

I was using my 70-200 lens for this image, so you're able to see the packed stands with fans wearing red, white and blue to support the United States which I think helps bring the image all together.

9/21: Mexico's Maria Sanchez celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal for her team against Colombia.

Maria Sanchez of Mexico celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal of her team against Colombia.
Hector Vivas/Getty Images

From the photographer, Hector Vivas:

This match, despite being a friendly game, was of great importance since the Mexican women's soccer team had not played at the Azteca Stadium with fans in over 14-years. Mexican women's soccer in recent years has received a lot of support, which is reflected in the good technique and dedication that the players have on the field.

Maria Sanchez, who is a star playing with her home team in Mexico, scored the second goal and celebrated with great joy around all of her teammates. Women's soccer delivers the best of the sport's passion and dedication, and we are privileged to be able to photograph it.

9/21: Rose Lavelle celebrates with teammates after scoring a USWNT goal in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.

USWNT
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

From the photographer, Emilee Chinn:

Rose Lavelle is from Cincinnati, so before the game I expected a lot of fans to be there in support of her especially. Four minutes into the game, she scored the first goal of the total eight for the United States. Of all eight goal celebrations, this one was definitely the most electric because Lavelle's teammates knew how much this meant for her and her hometown fans.

9/22: Australian Xantheia Pennisi dives from the 21 meter platform during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Polignano a Mare, Italy.

Australian Xantheia Pennisi dives from the 21 meter platform during the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Polignano a Mare, Italy.
Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images

9/23: The Phoenix Mercury's Sophie Cunningham celebrates draining a three-pointer during a single-elimination WNBA playoff game against the New York Liberty.

Sophie Cunningham.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

From the photographer, Christian Petersen:

I always love shooting basketball, especially now that photographers are allowed back on the court. But, when it's WNBA and playoff action it's even more exciting. These athletes battle so hard for every pass, every shot and every point.

Sophie Cunningham of the Phoenix Mercury was having a good game. She hit a three-point shot at the timeliest moment and just let her emotion go. Thankfully, I had a perfect angle to capture her celebration with a clean background.

The Mercury held the lead and eventually won the game. Cunningham was awarded player of the game and gave a few words after. It's games and moments like this that we as sports photographers look for.

9/25: Japanese golfer Hiromu Ono hits a tee shot at the Chugoku Shimbun Chupea Ladies Cup at the Geinan Country Club in Hiroshima, Japan.

Hiromu Ono of Japan hits her tee shot on the 3rd hole during the final round of the Chugoku Shimbun Chupea Ladies Cup at the Geinan Country Club on September 25, 2021 in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan.
Toru Hanai/Getty Images

9/26: OL Reign midfielder Quinn dribbles through the rain.

OL Reign Quinn.
Jane Gershovich/ISI Photos/Getty Images

9/30: Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner extends her arm to try to block a shot from Las Vegas Aces' guard Kelsey Plum.

Brittney Griner Kelsey Plum.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Read the original article on Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting