The Women’s World Cup was first played in 1991. Since then, FIFA have increased the pool of teams involved and tweaked the format.
The women’s topflight in England only became professional in the latter part of the 2010s after the women’s game was banned between 1921 and 1971.
This century has seen immense evolution in women’s football in England and beyond. Once an afterthought in football odds, the Lionesses are now household names, with major women’s tournaments attracting huge support from around the country.
Viewing figures and women's football salaries have soared in recent years. Interest was buoyed further by hosting and winning the Euros in 2022.
In the early years of Women’s World Cup tips, England trailed far behind the world’s best. Their stock has risen over time, with increased funding for women’s teams in the domestic game.
Let’s take a look at the history of England at the Women’s World Cup…
England Record at the Women’s World Cup
The Lionesses failed to qualify for three of the first four Women’s World Cups, missing out in 1991, 1999 and 2003.
We’re starting our run through with the 1995 tournament, which was held in Sweden and had the lowest average attendance of any Women’s World Cup to date.
1995 – Quarter Finals
Reaching the semi-finals of the previous European Championships qualified England for the 1995 World Cup.
Facing Canada in their first match in Group B, England took a commanding 3-0 lead, with Gillian Coultard scoring their first ever World Cup goal, but were forced to cling on in the dying embers after Canada brought it back to 3-2.
A defeat to Norway in their second match left England needing a positive result when they faced Nigeria at Arosvallen.
It was another high-scoring affair, with the game sitting at 1-1 after just 13 minutes. England had a 3-1 advantage by half-time, and again held on to win 3-2 and book their place in the knockout rounds.
The last eight brought a meeting with Germany, who had knocked England out of the Euros at the semi-final stage.
Dominating European football at this point, Germany had no problem brushing England aside with a 3-0 victory. They went on to lose the final to Norway.
2007 – Quarter Finals
Despite changes to the qualifying process, England missed out on the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. A generation of players had come and gone by 2007.
Matched up with France, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary, the Lionesses excelled in UEFA qualification to reach their second ever World Cup finals.
Germany, Japan and Argentina were their rivals in Group A for the tournament held in China. First up, it was a dramatic match against Japan. Kelly Smith scored twice in the last 10 minutes to put England 2-1 up, but Japan equalised deep into added time.
A goalless draw with Germany in the second match left the Lionesses under pressure for their match against Argentina.
Taking a two-goal lead inside 10 minutes, they blew the South Americans away, with Smith scoring two more in a 6-1 drubbing.
The reward was a quarter-final meeting with the USA. Heavily favoured before the match, they hammered England 3-0.
The Stars and Stripes suffered a heavy defeat themselves, however, losing to Brazil in the semi-finals.
2011 – Quarter Finals
Again impressive during qualifying, England cruised into the 2011 World Cup. They were accompanied by Japan, Mexico and New Zealand in Group B.
The first match saw a draw with Mexico. A late goal from Jessica Clarke secured all three points against New Zealand before the Lionesses notched a 2-0 win over Japan.
It was the first time England had ever won their World Cup group, but their third World Cup quarter-final berth.
This time it was France waiting. England looked on course to reach their first ever semi-final when they took a second half lead, but an 88th minute goal from Les Bleues forced extra time and ultimately penalties.
France missed their first. England scored their first three. The last two English takers failed to score, though, resulting in another upsetting World Cup exit.
Minor consolation was perhaps taken by the fact that England were the only team to defeat eventual champions Japan.
2015 – Third Place
England won every qualifying match for the 2015 World Cup. They were drawn with France, Mexico and Colombia in Group F. Their tournament started how it ended four years prior with defeat to Les Bleues.
Just four days later, they bounced back with a 2-1 win over Mexico thanks to goals from Fran Kirby and Karen Carney.
Colombia were defeated by the same score line to cement England’s place in the knockouts as group runners up.
The streak of 2-1 victories extended to four, as Norway were seen off in the round of 16 and hosts Canada were knocked out in the quarters.
A first ever semi-final appearance ended in defeat to Japan. The teams scored a penalty apiece in the first half, but a 92nd minute own goal secured Japan’s spot in the final.
England then defeated Germany 1-0 in extra time in the third-place playoff.
2019 – Fourth Place
Preparation for the 2019 World Cup was disrupted by managerial changes, but England still got the job done to secure their place in France.
They were forced into an immediate rematch with Japan in the group stage, while also matching up with Scotland and Argentina.
For the first time, the Lionesses took all nine points from their three group matches. The knockout rounds started in similarly emphatic fashion, with a 3-0 win over Cameroon followed up by a victory of the same scoreline against Norway.
Just as was the case in 2015, England were knocked out in the semi-finals. The USA were the pre-tournament favourites and outplayed England on their way to a 2-1 victory.
Two early goals saw Sweden win the third-place playoff. It was their third time claiming the final podium position at the World Cup.
England had three ‘dared to shine’ players. Lucy Bronze won the Silver Ball, and Ellen White won the Bronze Boot after scoring six goals in 514 minutes.
England’s Best Result At the Women’s World Cup
England enjoyed their two best tournaments at the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cups, reaching the semi-finals on both occasions.
They finished third in 2015 and fourth four years later. Both runs were packed with live betting drama.
The 2015 and 2019 squads included many of the best English female footballers of all-time. Neither were able to get over the semi-final hump, ending in heartbreak to Japan and the USA.
England Women’s World Cup Goalscorers
Ellen White – 7 Women's World Cup goals
Fara Williams – 5 Women's World Cup goals
Kelly Smith – 4 Women's World Cup goals
Jill Scott – 4 Women's World Cup goals
Lucy Bronze – 3 Women's World Cup goals
Karen Carney – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Gillian Coultard – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Karen Farley – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Jodie Taylor – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Steph Houghton – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Fran Kirby – 2 Women's World Cup goals
Jessica Clarke – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Vicky Exley – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Marieanne Spacey – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Nikita Parris – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Alex Greenwood – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Karen Walker – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Rachel Yankey – 1 Women's World Cup goal
Performance By Tournament
1991 Women's World Cup – Did not qualify
1995 Women's World Cup – Quarter finalists
1999 Women's World Cup – Did not qualify
2003 Women's World Cup – Did not qualify
2007 Women's World Cup – Quarter finalists
2011 Women's World Cup - Quarter finalists
2015 Women's World Cup – Third place
2019 Women's World Cup – Fourth place