athletes The Best Female Athletes of All Time

17k votes 3.3k views 166 items Embed

List Rules Open to all amateur or professional female athletes in any sport

The greatest female athletes of all time: a list of the most dominant, iconic female athletes to ever play or compete in their respective sports. This list gathers female sports stars from across every professional league, association, and organization as well as amateur female athletes who may have never competed professionally in one overall list. Though it may be challenging to compare performance in a variety of different competitive arenas requiring different skill sets, this list nevertheless attempts to distinguish the top female athletes of all time. The most successful female athletes ever. The female sports stars that rise to the top can be considered to be not only some of the best female athletes of all time, but some of the best athletes, no qualifier, ever. Period.

Aspects to consider in picking a female best athlete of all time would include, obviously, that player's raw talent and born ability. Some individuals seem to be prodigally gifted in their sport of choice, and it's hard to discount the importance of this kind of natural talent. However, it's also important to evaluate hard work, discipline and a commitment to the game. Some women in sports may not have the natural, genetic ability to dunk a basketball or hit a home run, but nonetheless have trained to the point of reaching these goals all the same. (They may not be the greatest female athlete of all time at all women's sports, but they have mastered their activity).

So, who are the top female athletes of all time? From Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Ronda Rousey, and beyond! Be sure to vote up your favorites!

1
+ - 198 81
Annie Thorisdottir is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Annie Thorisdottir

Female Sports with the Hottest Athletes The Most Underrated College Football Player

2
+ - 326 155
Paula Radcliffe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Paula Radcliffe Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE is an English long-distance runner. She is the current women's world record holder in the marathon with her time of 2 hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds. She is a three-time ...more

3
+ - 223 96
Annika Sörenstam is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Annika Sörenstam Annika Sörenstam is a Swedish retired professional golfer whose achievements rank her as one of the most successful female golfers in history. Before stepping away from competitive golf at the ...more

4
+ - 331 159
Věra Čáslavská is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Věra Čáslavská Věra Čáslavská is a Czech former gymnast. Attractive, cheerful and possessing impressive stage presence, she was generally popular with the public and won a total of 22 international ...more

5
+ - 346 171
Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Steffi Graf Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf is a German former world No. 1 tennis player. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. Her 22 singles titles is second all time behind Margaret Court, and mark the ...more

6
+ - 309 150
Yelena Isinbayeva is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Yelena Isinbayeva Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva is a Russian pole vaulter. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a three-time World Champion, the current world record holder in the event, who is widely considered the ...more

7
+ - 231 109
Marit Bjørgen is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Marit Bjørgen Marit Bjørgen is a Norwegian cross-country skier and six times Olympic champion from Midtre Gauldal, Norway. She is ranked first in the all-time Cross-Country World Cup rankings with ...more

8
+ - 279 141
Lidija Skoblikowa is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Lidija Skoblikowa

9
+ - 172 79
Nastia Liukin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Nastia Liukin Anastasia Valeryevna "Nastia" Liukin is a retired Russian-American artistic gymnast. She is the 2008 Olympic individual all-around Champion, the 2005 and 2007 World Champion on the balance ...more

10
+ - 118 45
Astrid Benöhr is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Astrid Benöhr Toughest woman in the world. Holds several world records in Triple Ultra Triathlon  (3 times the Ironman distance) and won that competition at every event from 1992 - 2006! Also holds the absolute world record in Ironman * 10 ...

11
+ - 126 53
Anni Friesinger-Postma is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Anni Friesinger-Postma Anna Christine Friesinger-Postma is a former German speed skater. Her father Georg Friesinger, of Germany, and mother Janina Korowicka, of Poland, were both skaters; Jana was on the Polish team at the ...more

12
+ - 162 77
Ingrid Kristiansen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Ingrid Kristiansen Ingrid Kristiansen is a Norwegian former athlete. She was one of the best female long distance runners during the 1980s. She is a former world record holder in the 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and the ...more

13
+ - 174 85
Grete Waitz is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Grete Waitz Grete Waitz was a Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder. In 1979, she became the first woman in history to run the marathon in under two and a half hours. She won nine New York City ...more

14
+ - 253 137
Carolina Klüft is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Carolina Klüft Carolina Evelyn Klüft is a Swedish retired athlete competing in heptathlon, triple jump, long jump, and pentathlon. She won the Olympic heptathlon title in 2004. She is also a three-time World ...more

15
+ - 254 138
Birgit Fischer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Birgit Fischer Birgit Fischer is a German kayaker, who has won eight gold medals over six different Olympic Games, a record she shares with Aladár Gerevich, spanning seven Olympiads: twice representing East ...more

America's Hottest Female Athletes The Weirdest Sports from Around the World

16
+ - 257 141
Sonja Henie is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Sonja Henie Sonja Henie was a Norwegian figure skater and film star. She was a three-time Olympic Champion in Ladies' Singles, a ten-time World Champion and a six-time European Champion. Henie won more Olympic ...more

17
+ - 116 49
Victoria Pendleton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Victoria Pendleton Victoria Louise Gardner, CBE is an English former track cyclist who specialised in the sprint, team sprint and keirin disciplines. Pendleton represented Great Britain and England in international ...more

18
+ - 154 75
Katarina Witt is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Katarina Witt Katarina Witt is a retired German figure skater. Witt won two Olympic gold medals for East Germany, first at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics and the second in 1988 at the Calgary Olympics. She is a ...more

19
+ - 62 15
Kajsa Bergqvist is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Kajsa Bergqvist Kajsa Margareta Bergqvist is a Swedish former high jumper. She won one bronze medal in the Olympic Games, one gold and two bronze medals in the World Championships in Athletics and one gold and one ...more

20
+ - 72 22
Isabell Werth is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Isabell Werth Isebell Werth is a German equestrian and world champion in dressage.

21
+ - 153 78
Magdalena Neuner is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Magdalena Neuner Magdalena "Lena" Neuner is a retired German professional biathlete. She is the most successful woman of all time at Biathlon World Championships and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. At the ...more

22
+ - 71 22
Tirunesh Dibaba is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Tirunesh Dibaba Tirunesh Dibaba also known as Tirunesh Dibaba Kenene is an Ethiopian long distance track athlete and the outdoor 5000 metres world record holder. She is the current World and Olympic 10,000 metres ...more

23
+ - 59 14
Georgeta Damian is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Georgeta Damian Georgeta Damian is a female rower from Romania and winner of five Olympic gold medals. She is married to Valeriu Andrunache. Damian rowed in the Romanian Women's Eights, that won the rowing World ...more

24
+ - 69 21
Jenny Thompson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Jenny Thompson Jennifer Beth Thompson is an American former competition swimmer, and one of the most decorated Olympians in history, winning twelve medals, including eight gold medals, in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and ...more

25
+ - 85 32
Claudia Pechstein is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Claudia Pechstein Claudia Pechstein is a German speed skater. She has won five Olympic gold medals. With a total of nine Olympic medals, five gold, two silver and two bronze, she is the most successful Olympic speed ...more

26
+ - 48 8
Meseret Defar is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Meseret Defar Meseret Defar Tola is a female long-distance runner from Ethiopia who competes chiefly in the 3000 metres and 5000 metres events. She has won medals at top-tier international competitions including ...more

27
+ - 81 30
Katja Seizinger is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Katja Seizinger Katja Seizinger is a former alpine ski racer, the most successful alpine racer from Germany. Born in Datteln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Seizinger won three Olympic gold and two bronze medals, and won ...more

28
+ - 52 11
Polina Astakhova is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Polina Astakhova Polina Astakhova was a Soviet/Ukrainian gymnast who won ten medals at the Summer Olympics, where she participated as a member of the USSR team in 1956, 1960 and 1964.

29
+ - 106 49
Stephanie Gilmore is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Stephanie Gilmore Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and six-time world champion on the Women's ASP World Tour. She was born in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia on 29 January 1988 and ...more

The Hottest Female Tennis Players 39 Ways to Repel a Potential Girlfriend

30
+ - 73 26
Rosa Mota is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Rosa Mota Rosa Maria Correia dos Santos Mota is a Portuguese former marathon runner, one of her country's foremost athletes, being the first sportswoman from Portugal to win Olympic gold. Mota was the first ...more

31
+ - 153 86
Maria Sharapova is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Maria Sharapova Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a Russian professional tennis player, who as of October 6, 2014 is ranked world No. 2 by the Women's Tennis Association. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has ...more

32
+ - 28 3
Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi is a Finnish former cross country skier. She was the big figure at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, winning all three individual cross country skiing events, and a bronze medal ...more

33
+ - 173 102
Michelle Kwan is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Michelle Kwan Michelle Wingshan Kwan is an American figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist, a five-time World champion and a nine-time U.S. champion. She competed at a high level for over a decade and is ...more

34
+ - 89 41
Jessica Ennis-Hill is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Jessica Ennis-Hill Jessica Ennis-Hill, CBE, née Ennis, is a British track and field athlete, specialising in multi-eventing disciplines and 100 metres hurdles. A member of the City of Sheffield Athletic Club, she ...more

35
+ - 56 18
Ariane Friedrich is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Ariane Friedrich Ariane Friedrich, born Tempel is a German high jumper. She won the bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships and represented Germany at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She is the German outdoor record ...more

36
+ - 57 19
Edna Kiplagat is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Edna Kiplagat Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat is a Kenyan long-distance runner. She is the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Champion in the marathon. She established herself as an elite marathon runner with wins at the Los ...more

37
+ - 421 288
Janica Kostelić is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Janica Kostelić Janica Kostelić is a former World Cup alpine ski racer and four-time Olympic gold medalist from Croatia. In addition to the Olympics, she won five gold medals at the World Championships. In World Cup ...more

38
+ - 112 61
Angelique Kerber is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Angelique Kerber Angelique Kerber is a German tennis player of Polish background. Kerber has won four singles titles on the WTA tour, as well as eleven singles and three doubles on the ITF tour in her career. On 22 ...more

39
+ - 51 16
Amelia Boone is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Amelia Boone

40
+ - 92 47
Tina Maze is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Tina Maze Tina Maze is a Slovenian World Cup alpine ski racer and a double Olympic gold medalist. She is the most successful female ski racer in the Slovenian history with a career that culminated with two gold ...more

41
+ - 158 97
Allyson Felix is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Allyson Felix Allyson Michelle Felix is an American track and field sprint athlete, who competes internationally for the United States. Her specialty is the 200 meters, winning the 2012 Olympic gold, two Olympic ...more

42
+ - 57 21
Emma Johansson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Emma Johansson Emma Johansson is a Swedish professional racing cyclist. She won the silver medal in the women's road race at the 2008 Summer Olympics. After having finished second in the 2009 Trofeo Alfredo ...more

43
+ - 58 23
Lisa Nordén is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Lisa Nordén Lisa Nordén is a professional Swedish triathlete, 2008 Olympian and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. She is also the winner of the 2012 Triathlon World Series. Nordén's other ...more

The Hottest Female Gymnasts The Best Coffee Drink Brands

44
+ - 72 34
Marina Lobatch is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Marina Lobatch Marina Vikentyevna Lobatch was a Soviet Individual rhythmic gymnast. She is the 1988 Olympic champion, 1987 World gold medalist in hoop and 1988 European gold medalist in rope and ribbon.

45
+ - 51 18
Svetlana Romashina is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Svetlana Romashina Svetlana Alekseyevna Romashina is a Russian competitor in synchronized swimming. She won two consecutive gold medals in the team competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. ...more

46
+ - 126 76
Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Serena Williams Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in women's singles tennis. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her World No. 1 in singles on six ...more

47
+ - 150 95
Betty Cuthbert is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Betty Cuthbert Elizabeth Cuthbert AM, MBE is an Australian athlete, and a fourfold Olympic champion. During her career, she set world records for 60 metres, 100 yards, 200 metres, 220 yards and 440 yards. Cuthbert ...more

48
+ - 25 3
Gabriela Soukalová is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Gabriela Soukalová Gabriela Soukalová is a Czech biathlete. She won two Olympic silver medals at the 2014 Sochi Games. Soukalová began her biathlon career in 2005. Her first wins in the Biathlon World Cup ...more

49
+ - 195 131
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Jacqueline "Jackie" Joyner-Kersee is a retired American athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon as well as in the women's long jump. She won three ...more

50
+ - 83 44
Inge de Bruijn is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Inge de Bruijn Inge de Bruijn is a Dutch former swimmer. She is a four-time Olympic champion and a former world record holder.