• Sports

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

List RulesVote 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.

  • 1
    enros addedCroatia
    5,994
    603

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    ProfessionAlpine skier

    Janica Kostelić (born 5 January 1982) 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  ...more
  • 2
    ColinBoddy addedGermany
    824
    718

    BirthplaceStaaken, Germany

    ProfessionFigure Skater

    Katarina Witt (German pronunciation: [ˈkataʁiːna vɪt]; born 3 December 1965) is a retired German figure skater. Witt won two Olympic gold medals for East Germany, first at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics  ...more
  • 3
    enros addedUnited States of America
    893
    834

    BirthplaceNovi Sad, Serbia

    ProfessionTennis player

    Monica Seles (born December 2, 1973) is a retired professional tennis player, who represented Yugoslavia and the United States and is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. An ethnic  ...more
  • 4
    enros addedGermany
    365
    298

    BirthplaceBad Reichenhall, Germany

    ProfessionSpeed Skater

    Anna ("Anni") Christine Friesinger-Postma (born 11 January 1977) is a German former speed skater. Her father Georg Friesinger, of Germany, and mother Janina ("Jana") Korowicka, of Poland, were both  ...more
  • 5
    enros addedAustralia
    449
    415

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    ProfessionSprinter

    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
  • 6
    leriton addedHungary
    540
    525

    BirthplaceBudapest, Hungary

    ProfessionSwimmer

    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
  • 7
    297
    263

    BirthplaceKaulsdorf

    ProfessionSpeed Skater

    Claudia Pechstein (born 22 February 1972) 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 was the most  ...more
  • 8
    United States of America
    177
    146

    BirthplaceSanta Clara, California

    ProfessionBeach Volleyball Player

    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
  • 9
    281
    246

    BirthplaceAlbury, Australia

    ProfessionWNBA

    Lauren Elizabeth Jackson (born May 11, 1981) is an Australian former professional basketball player. The daughter of two national basketball team players, Jackson was awarded a scholarship to the  ...more
  • 10
    enros addedAustralia
    243
    195

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    ProfessionSurfer

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on the Women's ASP World Tour (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018). She was born in Murwillumbah, New  ...more
  • 11
    Mungomax added

    Mikaela Shiffrin

    United States of America
    322
    305

    BirthplaceVail, Colorado

    ProfessionAlpine skier

    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
  • 12
    enros addedUnited States of America
    394
    376

    BirthplaceSyracuse, New York

    ProfessionSwimmer

    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
  • 13
    149
    98

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    ProfessionSwimmer

    Kristin Otto (born 7 February 1966) is a German Olympic swimming champion. She is most famous for being the first woman to win six gold medals at a single Olympic Games, doing so at the 1988 Seoul  ...more
  • 14
    United States of America
    366
    347

    BirthplaceRiverside, California

    ProfessionMixed Martial Artist

    Ronda Jean Rousey (; born February 1, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, actress, author, and former mixed martial artist and judoka. She is currently signed to WWE, and performs on the Raw  ...more
  • 15
    Mungomax addedJamaica
    92
    65

    BirthplaceKingston, Jamaica

    ProfessionSprinter

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (née Fraser on 27 December 1986) is a Jamaican track and field sprinter. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce ascended to prominence in 2008 when at 21 years old, the  ...more
  • 16
    Mungomax addedCzech Republic
    120
    97

    BirthplaceNové Město na Moravě, Czech Republic

    ProfessionSpeed Skater

    Martina Sáblíková (Czech pronunciation: [ˈmarcɪna ˈsaːbliːkovaː] (listen)) (born 27 May 1987) is a Czech speed skater, specializing in long track speed skating. She is an Olympic gold medal winner  ...more
  • 17
    leriton addedUkraine
    264
    131

    BirthplaceZaporizhia, Ukraine

    ProfessionArtistic Gymnast

    Polina Ghrighorievna Astakhova (Полина Григорьевна Астахова, 30 October 1936 – 5 August 2005) was a Soviet Ukrainian artistic gymnast. She won ten medals at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Summer Olympics.[1]  ...more
  • 18
    enros addedGermany
    222
    186

    BirthplaceBremen, Germany

    ProfessionTennis player

    Angelique Kerber (German: [ʔandʒɛˈliːk ˈkɛɐ̯bɐ]; born 18 January 1988) is a German professional tennis player. A former world No. 1 and winner of three Grand Slam tournaments, she made her  ...more
  • 19
    210
    173

    BirthplaceOdense, Denmark

    ProfessionTennis player

    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
  • 20
    United States of America
    136
    105

    BirthplaceDes Moines, Iowa

    ProfessionSprinter

    Lori Susan "Lolo" Jones (born August 5, 1982) is an American hurdler and bobsledder who specializes in the 60-meter and 100-meter hurdles. She won three NCAA titles and garnered 11 All-American  ...more
  • 21
    626
    620

    BirthplaceBaarn, Netherlands

    ProfessionSprinter

    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
  • 22
    leriton addedUSSR
    146
    75

    BirthplaceGrozny, Russia

    ProfessionGymnast

    Ludmilla Ivanovna Tourischeva (Russian: Людми́ла Ива́новна Тури́щева; also transliterated as Ludmilla Turischeva, Ludmilla Tourischcheva, and Ljudmila Turichtchieva), born October 7, 1952, is a  ...more
  • 23
    Ari Aries addedCanada
    122
    92

    BirthplaceShaunavon, Canada

    ProfessionIce Hockey Player

    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
  • 24
    enros addedRussia
    1,397
    1,480

    BirthplaceZlatoust, Russia

    ProfessionSpeed Skater

    Lidiya Pavlovna Skoblikova (Russian: Лидия Павловна Скобликова; born 8 March 1939) is a retired Russian speed skater and coach. She represented the USSR Olympic team during the Olympic Winter Games  ...more
  • 25
    BaruchLalaev addedUnited States of America
    135
    90

    BirthplaceBethesda, Maryland

    ProfessionSwimmer

    Kathleen Genevieve Ledecky is an American competition swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, and current world record-holder in multiple events. She is the current world record holder in the 400-, 800-, and  ...more