Sisters have a bond like no other. They share parents, experiences and sometimes clothing. Only 10 sets of sisters from the United States have something else in common: an Olympic medal. As part of Women of Team USA Week, we salute them.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams, Tennis
Venus Williams (L) and Serena Williams (R) stand on the podium at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 on Aug. 17, 2008 in Beijing.
The most successful sister act in tennis history was famous before setting foot on an Olympic court. Raised in Compton, California, and coached by their father, Richard, the Williams sisters burst on the scene in the 1990s and each reached No. 1 in the world.
While some elite players choose to skip the Olympic Games, both Serena and Venus were drawn to the Games. Venus has four gold medals and one silver in 16 years spanning five Olympic Games. Serena has four golds in four Games, missing one Olympics due to injury.
They won their first Grand Slams in 1999, teaming up to win the French Open and US Open women’s doubles titles. They currently have 14 Grand Slam victories in doubles.
Venus was the first to break through on the singles side, winning Wimbledon and the US Open in 2000 for the first of her seven Grand Slams.
That same year, the Williams sisters made their Olympic debut, playing in the Olympic Games Sydney 2000. They teamed up for the doubles gold medal with Venus winning the gold in singles.
In 2004, Serena withdrew with a left knee injury while Venus lost in the third round in singles to Mary Pierce of France. Venus partnered with Chanda Rubin in doubles, losing in the first round to eventual champions Li Ting and Sun Tiantian of China.
At the 2008 Beijing Games, both Williams sisters lost in the quarterfinals, but they roared to another gold medal in doubles.
Serena equaled her sister’s double gold medal feat in 2012 when the Olympic tournament was played at Wimbledon, giving her a career Golden Slam in singles to go along with the doubles career Golden Slam she and Venus completed in 2001. Serena, who was seeded fourth, walloped third-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia in the singles final, losing only one game, and then she and Venus won the doubles gold a day later.
“I was so focused here,” Serena said. “I remember I was serving and I was thinking: ‘Serena, this is your best chance to win a gold medal. You’re at Wimbledon. You’re on grass. You play great on grass. Pull it together! Just win this!’”
At the Rio 2016 Games, Venus lost in the first round and Serena was upset in the third round in singles. The Williams sisters bowed out in the first round of doubles to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic, snapping their 15-match winning streak in Olympic competition.
But Venus wasn’t finished. She and Rajeev Ram won the silver medal in mixed doubles, losing to U.S. teammates Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock, but giving the Williams sisters another podium.
Venus, now 38, and Serena, 37, are still formidable players – together and separately.
Serena, who gave birth to her first child in September 2017, now has 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the Open era and second only to Margaret Court with 24.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Ice Hockey
Monique Lamoureux-Morando (L) and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson (R) pose for a photo at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 7, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
A set of twins propelled the U.S. women’s ice hockey team to one of its most momentous victories. “The Lams,” as their teammates call them, won silver medals in 2010 and 2014, then came back for one more hurrah, winning the gold medal at age 28 at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Lamoureux-Davidson scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout against Canada after Lamoureux-Morando tied the game with 6:21 to go in regulation. The gold medal was the first for Team USA in women’s ice hockey since 1998.
“They’re the best fighters I’ve ever been around,” teammate Gigi Marvin said of the twins. “My grandpa would always say, ‘If you’re going to put someone in the trenches with you, who are you going to pick?’ And I’m going to pick the Lams.”
The North Dakota natives also won six gold medals at world championships with Team USA. In college, they played a year for the University of Minnesota and three years for the University of North Dakota.
At the PyeongChang Games, Team USA and Canada were tied after 60 minutes of regulation, a 20-minute overtime and five rounds of the shootout. Coach Robb Stauber asked Lamoureux-Davidson if she wanted go up against Canada’s Shannon Szabados, who had already made 39 saves.
“I said, ‘Absolutely,’” she said. “She’s an amazing goalie and I knew I had to sell the shot, and I did.”
Lamoureux-Davidson had already set an Olympic record in pool play against the Olympic Athletes from Russia, scoring two goals in six seconds.
But this shot brought down the house, and was the perfect punctuation point to the twins’ Olympic career.
Lamoureux-Morando said she and her sister hope “that we left this team and program better off than we came into it, and I think we’ve done that.”
Karen Josephson and Sarah Josephson, Synchronized Swimming
Sarah Josephson (L) and Karen Josephson (R) compete at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 in Barcelona.
The only other set of Team USA female twins to podium, the Josephsons won a silver medal in 1988 and gold in 1992 in duet.
While performing their routines, it was hard to tell them apart. However, Sarah had a slightly higher score in figures at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, so she was named the alternate to Tracie Ruiz and Candie Costie at the Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984.
The Josephsons paired up to win silver at the 1985 world championships, with Sarah also winning the silver in solo (which is no longer part of the Games). They won the gold at the 1987 Pan American Games.
The Josephsons narrowly missed the top step of the podium at the Olympic Games Seoul 1988 as the Canadian duo of Michelle Cameron and Carolyn Waldo edged them 197.317 to 197.284. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, the difference came down to the Canadian judge, who favored her countrywomen in the freestyle portion of the competition while the other six judges awarded higher marks to the Josephsons.
The Connecticut natives, who competed for Ohio State University, came back four years later at age 28 to defeat another set of identical twins, Penny and Victoria Vilagos, also of Canada. The Josephsons came into Barcelona on a 15-meet winning streak, with no losses since the 1988 Games. They scored 192.175 points, with the Vilagos sisters at 189.394.
Elaina Oden and Kim Oden, Volleyball
Elaina Oden (back row, third from left) and Kim Oden (back row, fourth from left) pose for a photo with the U.S. women's national team at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992.
The Odens prowled the court to help Team USA win the bronze medal in women’s volleyball at the Olympic Games Barcelona 1992 when Elaina was 25 and Kim was 28. Team USA defeated Brazil 3-0 (15-8, 15-6, 15-3) to claim the bronze. In pool play, Team USA beat the eventual champion, the Unified Team, in five sets, but lost to Cuba in the semifinals after leading 9-8 in the deciding set.
The bronze medal was the first in women’s volleyball for Team USA since taking the silver in 1984. The United States did not reach the podium again until 2008, again claiming silver.
Kim, who played for Stanford University, was the U.S. team captain in 1988 and 1992. In Seoul, she had the highest hitting percentage and was designated “Best Hitter.”
Elaina helped the University of the Pacific win back-to-back NCAA championships. She also competed at the 1996 Olympic Games, where Team USA placed seventh.
Their younger sister Beverly (“Bev”) Oden was also a member of the 1996 Olympic team.
Gillian Boxx, Softball, and Shannon Boxx, Soccer
Gillian Boxx (L) competes on July 25, 1991 in Denver, Colo.; Shannon Boxx (R) competes for the U.S. women's soccer team on Sept. 19, 2012 in Commerce City, Colo.
Who says all sisters have to play the same sports? Gillian, then 22, was the catcher for Team USA as softball made its Olympic debut in 1996.
Gillian, who played collegiately for the University of California at Berkeley, hit .250 (4-for-16) with three RBI and two runs scored as Team USA won the sport’s first Olympic gold medal. She also won two world championship gold medals in 1994 and 1998. In 1994, she hit .800 (4-for-5) with two RBI and three runs scored and in 1998 she started six games with two RBI and two runs scored.
Her younger sister, Shannon, was a midfielder for Team USA in soccer. However, she did not receive her first senior cap until August 2003, when she was 26. Shannon was the first American woman to score three goals in her first three matches with the national team. At age 27, Shannon played in her first Olympic Games in 2004, winning the first of her three consecutive gold medals. She played in all six games, scoring a goal and assisting on another and was seventh in voting for the 2004 FIFA World Player of the Year.
In 2008, Shannon played every minute in all five U.S. games.
The former Notre Dame player also won four Women’s World Cup medals – bronze in 2003 and 2007, silver in 2011 and gold in 2015.
Jessica Steffens and Maggie Steffens, Water Polo
Jessica Steffens (L) and Maggie Steffens (R) celebrate at the Olympic Games London 2012 on Aug. 9, 2012 in London.
Jessica, who is six years older and four inches taller than Maggie, won the silver medal in 2008 at age 21 and the gold in 2012. In Beijing, she scored five goals for Team USA.
Maggie joined Jessica in the Olympic pool in 2012 when she was 19, scoring seven goals in the first match to tie an Olympic single-game record. She finished with a total of 21 goals, a new Olympic record, en route to her first gold medal.
Four years later, Maggie again led Team USA in scoring with 17 goals and secured her second gold.
Their father Carlos played for Puerto Rico at three Pan American Games and sparked their interest in the sport. Both Steffens sisters played collegiately for Stanford University, with Maggie leading the Cardinal to three NCAA titles.
Jessica also claimed gold at the Pan American Games in 2007, where she scored five goals, and 2011, and a gold at the 2009 world championships, where she had four goals. Maggie captured Pan Am golds in 2011 and 2015, and world titles in 2015 and 2017.
Courtney Hurley and Kelley Hurley, Fencing
Kelley Hurley (L) and Courtney Hurley (R) celebrate at the Olympic Games London 2012 on Aug. 4, 2012 in London.
Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, and coached by their father, Bob, the Hurleys – now 28 and 30 – have been on world teams together since Courtney was 15.
Kelley, who is nearly 2 ½ years older than her kid sister, got her first Olympic ring in 2008 when she became the only women’s epee fencer for Team USA in Beijing at age 20.
Courtney joined her in 2012 where they were part of the historic bronze-medal-winning U.S. squad in women’s epee at the London 2012 Games. Along with teammates Maya Lawrence and Susie Scanlan, they won the first Team USA medal in the event.
Both Hurleys were four-time All-Americans for Notre Dame. They competed individually in Rio as the team placed fifth. At the 2018 world championships, they won gold in the team event and Courtney won the individual bronze. Courtney became the first U.S. woman ever to win an individual medal in epee, and the team gold marked the first medal of any color by Team USA in women’s epee.
Alyssa Anderson and Haley Anderson, Swimming
Haley Anderson (L) and Alyssa Anderson (R) pose for a photo with their medal from the Olympic Games London 2012.
While Alyssa was a sprinter, Haley excelled in the longest of the long distances. They both made the Olympic team in 2012, with Alyssa, then 21, winning a gold medal by swimming in the preliminaries of the 4x200-meter freestyle and Haley, 20, taking the silver in the 10-kilometer open water swimming race as the first American woman to medal in open water.
Both were also members of Team USA at the 2009 world championships. Alyssa, who competed for the University of Arizona, won a silver in the 4x200 free after swimming a leg in the preliminaries. Haley swam in the 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles. She had already qualified for the 10K when she competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, narrowly missing an Olympic berth in the 800 with her third-place finish.
Haley, who swam for the University of Southern California, won two gold medals at the world championships in the 5K open water swim (2013 and 2015) as well as a silver in the team event in 2017. She finished fifth at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Sherri Howard and Denean Howard-Hill, Track and Field
Sherri Howard and Denean Howard-Hill race around a track on Oct. 16, 1991.
The Howard family was full of 400-meter phenoms. The four youngest (of six) sisters teamed up for San Gorgonio High School in San Bernardino, California, in 1979. Atra (senior), Tina (sophomore), Sherri (junior) and Denean (freshman) still hold the national high school record for the 4x440-meter (mile) of 3:44.89. (Schools now run the 4 x 400).
In 1980, Sherri and Denean became the first sisters to make the U.S. Olympic team in the same track and field event. Sherri, who won the 400-meter at the trials, had just turned 18 and Denean, who placed third, was 15. Unfortunately, they were unable to compete at the Olympics because of the U.S. boycott of the Moscow Games.
In 1984, Sherri was fourth and Denean finished fifth at the trials in the 400. They both won gold medals on the 4x400 team, with Denean running in the preliminary rounds and Sherri in the final. Sherri’s split of 48.83, which she achieved despite two stress fractures in her left foot, helped Team USA set an Olympic record of 3:18.29.
Four years later in Seoul, their positions were reversed. Sherri, who was fifth at the trials, ran in the early round and Denean, who was second at the trials, handled the opening leg in the final. Team USA took the silver medal in 3:15.51, a time which still stands as the American record, while the Soviet Union claimed the gold in 3:15.17, the existing world record. Denean was also sixth in the individual 400.
Denean qualified for her fourth Olympic team by placing fifth at the 1992 Olympic trials. In Barcelona, she ran in the 4x400 preliminaries as Team USA eventually won the silver medal.
Sherri, who competed collegiately for California State University, Los Angeles, and UCLA, still holds the national high school record for 440 yards (53.65 seconds) from 1979. Denean, who also ran for the Cal State Los Angeles Golden Eagles, held the 400-meter record of 52.39 from 1982 to 2000. Both were named the national “Girls High School Athlete of the Year” by Track & Field News.
Aria Fischer and Makenzie Fischer, Water Polo
Aria Fischer (L) and Makenzie Fischer won water polo gold together at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Makenzie and Aria Fischer are another sibling set who have struck gold playing water polo. Makenzie was 19 when she scored seven goals for Team USA at the Rio Games. Aria, then 17, joined her on the top step of the podium and was the youngest female water polo gold medalist for Team USA.
Makenzie also had six goals at the 2015 world championships, 10 at the 2015 Pan American Games, and five at the 2017 worlds, adding three more gold medals to her collection.
Aria scored five goals in Budapest in 2017, winning her first world championships gold.
Both play collegiately for Stanford University, just as their parents did. Their father Erich was a two-time All-American and a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team and their mother Leslie played for the Cardinal women’s team when it was a club sport. Their uncle, Martin Fischer, was a goalkeeper for Stanford's men's water polo team and coached Stanford's women's team to its first national title.
Last year Makenzie led Stanford with 67 goals, the fifth most in school history, and she leads the 12-1 Cardinal team this season as well.
Karen Rosen has covered 16 Olympic Games and has one sister, Laurie Lami, who has been a spectator at two Olympics.