Yvette Williams was born in Dunedin in 1929. In 1952 she the first New Zealand woman to win an Olympic gold medal, in Helsinki.
In 1950 Yvette won the Auckland Empire Games gold medal in the long jump and silver in the javelin.
In February 1954, she broke the women's long jump world record in Gisborne, with a jump of 6.28 metres.
In 1953, Williams was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire, for services to women's athletics, and in 2011 she was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to athletics. Williams was twice named the New Zealand Sportsman of the Year, in 1950 and 1952. She was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame in 1990. In 2000, she was voted Otago Sportsperson of the Century.