Sports

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

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Vote up the best professional women athletes in history.

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 Venus Williams to Mia Hamm to Jackie Joyner-Kersee to Ronda Rousey, and beyond! Be sure to vote up your favorites, then head over and check out the highest-paid women in sports.

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list ordered by
  • Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player and former world No. 1. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight ...more
  • Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin is an American World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team, specializing in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and ...more
  • Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf (German pronunciation: [ˈʃtɛfiː ˈɡʁaːf]; born 14 June 1969) is a German former professional tennis player. She was ranked world No. 1 and won 22 Grand Slam singles ...more
  • Christine Marie Evert (born December 21, 1954), known as Chris Evert Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, is a retired American World No. 1 tennis player. She won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three ...more
  • Lindsey Caroline Vonn (née Kildow ; born October 18, 1984) is an American former World Cup alpine ski racer on the US Ski Team. She won four World Cup overall championships—one of only two female ...more
  • Krisztina Egerszegi (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈkristinɒ ˈɛɡɛrsɛɡi]; born 16 August 1974) is a Hungarian former world record holding swimmer and one of the greatest Hungarian Olympic champions of the ...more
  • Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee (born March 3, 1962) is an American retired track and field athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon as well as long jump. She won three gold, ...more
  • Dana Whitney Vollmer (born November 13, 1987) is an American former competition swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, and former world record-holder. At the 2004 Summer Olympics, she won a gold medal as a ...more
  • Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner (born Florence Delorez Griffith; December 21, 1959 – September 21, 1998), also known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete. She is considered the fastest ...more
  • Jennifer Beth Thompson (born February 26, 1973) is an American former competition swimmer and anesthesiologist. She is one of the most decorated Olympians in history: twelve medals, including eight ...more
  • Francina "Fanny" Elsje Blankers-Koen (26 April 1918 – 25 January 2004) was a Dutch track and field athlete, best known for winning four gold medals at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. She competed ...more
  • Sonja Henie
    12
    Sonja Henie (8 April 1912 – 12 October 1969) was a Norwegian figure skater and film star. She was a three-time Olympic Champion (1928, 1932, 1936) in Ladies' Singles, a ten-time World Champion ...more
  • Yelena Gadzhievna Isinbayeva (Russian: Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева, IPA: [jɪˈlʲɛnə gɐˈdʐɨjɪvnə ɪsʲɪnˈbajɪvə]; born 3 June 1982) is a Russian former pole vaulter. She is a two-time Olympic gold medalist ...more
  • Holly Holm
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    Holly Rene Holm (born October 17, 1981) is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She is the former UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, and a former ...more
  • Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian: Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова, IPA: [mɐˈrʲijə ˈjʉrʲjɪvnə ʂɐˈrapəvə] (listen); born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. A United States resident ...more
  • Marit Bjørgen (born 21 March 1980) is a retired Norwegian cross-country skier. She is ranked first in the all-time Cross-Country World Cup rankings with 114 individual victories. Bjørgen is also the ...more
  • Nadia Elena Comăneci (UK: , US: , Romanian: [ˈnadi.a koməˈnetʃʲ] (listen); born 12 November 1961) is a Romanian retired gymnast and a five-time Olympic gold medalist, all in individual events. ...more
  • Michelle Wingshan Kwan (born July 7, 1980) is a retired American figure skater. She is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002), a five-time World champion (1996, 1998, 2000, ...more
  • Elizabeth Alyse Cuthbert, (20 April 1938 – 6 August 2017) was an Australian athlete and a fourfold Olympic champion. She was nicknamed Australia's "Golden Girl". During her career, she set world ...more
  • Annika Sörenstam (pronounced [ˈanːɪka ²sœːrɛnˌstam] (listen); born 9 October 1970) is a retired Swedish American professional golfer. She is regarded as one of the best female golfers in history. ...more
  • Anastasia Valeryevna "Nastia" Liukin (; Russian: Анастасия "Настя" Валерьевна Люкина [ˈlʲʉkʲɪn]; born October 30, 1989) is a Russian American former artistic gymnast. She is the 2008 Olympic ...more
  • Hayley Wickenheiser (born August 12, 1978) is a Canadian former ice hockey player, and the current Assistant Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. She was the first woman to ...more
  • Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (Ukrainian: Лариса Семенівна Латиніна, Russian: Лари́са Семёновна Латы́нина; née Diriy; born 27 December 1934) is a former Soviet artistic gymnast from southern Ukrainian ...more
  • Caroline Wozniacki (R) (Danish: [kʰaːoliːnə vɒsniˈaki]; Polish: [vɔʑˈɲatskʲi]; born 11 July 1990) is a Danish professional tennis player. She is a former world No. 1 in singles, the 20th in the Open ...more
  • Kerri Lee Walsh Jennings (born August 15, 1978) is an American professional beach volleyball player, three-time Olympic gold medalist, and a one-time Olympic bronze medalist. She is the beach ...more