Ronda Rousey joins Chris Evert, Nancy Kerrigan as female athlete SNL hosts
Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will host Saturday Night Live on Jan. 23, becoming the first MMA fighter and third female athlete to do so in the show’s 41-year history. Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and tennis player Chris Evert are the only other female athletes who have hosted the NBC comedy show since its 1975 premiere. Olympic gold medal winning gymnast Kerri Strug has also appeared on the show, although not in a hosting role.
Rousey, who was knocked out by Holly Holm in the second round of UFC 193, will make her first public appearance on SNL since her upset loss in November. Pop star Selena Gomez, who will serve as the show’s musical guest, will also make her SNL debut on Saturday.
Before Rousey’s SNL appearance, take a look back at the previous performances of female athletes on the show.
November 11, 1989
Shortly after retiring from tennis, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion hosted SNL in its 15th season.
“If you think about it, Saturday Night Live and tennis are not all that different,” Evert said in her monologue. “Both require talent and concentration, both are done in front of a live audience, and both peaked in popularity in the late ’70s.”
Evert also did an amusing skit poking fun at her rivalry with tennis star Martina Navratilova, played by Nora Dunn, in which she was haunted by the fellow 18-time Grand Slam singles victor.
Eurythmics was the show’s musical guest that night.
March 12, 1994
One month after her second place finish at the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics, and two months removed from her brutal knee-cap attack orchestrated by Tonya Harding, Kerrigan appeared on SNL’s 19th season.
As host of the show, the figure skating champion mocked her own public image as both an American heroine and a brat. She took part in skits highlighting her infamous rivalry with Harding, as well as a monologue involving Norm MacDonald, Davis Spade, Chris Farley, Rob Schneider and Sarah Silverman.
Aretha Franklin served as SNL’s musical guest that night.
September 28, 1996
Fresh off her gold medal winning heroics at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, gymnast Kerri Strug played a memorable role on SNL’s Weekend Update sketch in the first episode of season 22.
Strug, along with her brother Kippy (Chris Kattan), hilariously discussed her feelings about winning the gold, while her coach Bela Karolyi (Mark McKinney) also made an appearance.
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performed on the show that night.