The Best Female Athletes of All Time

Over 11.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Female Athletes of All Time
Voting Rules
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.

Most divisive: Monica Seles
Ranked by
  • Steffi Graf
    1,464 votes
    • Birthplace: Mannheim, Germany
    • Profession: Tennis player

    Steffi Graf's undeniable talent and exceptional footwork on the tennis court elevated her to legendary status, helping redefine the sport with her relentless drive and powerful forehand. Her poignant victories throughout her career include an astounding 22 Grand Slam titles and a coveted Golden Slam, achieved by clinching all four major tournaments and an Olympic gold in a single year. Graf's unrivaled consistency and longevity on the professional circuit transformed the perception of women's tennis, inspiring generations of athletes to challenge the limitations of their own potential.

  • Serena Williams
    United States of America
    1,819 votes
    • Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan
    • Profession: Tennis player

    Serena Williams has undoubtedly become one of the most dominant forces in the world of tennis, constantly challenging and pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the sport. Her remarkable power, agility, and unparalleled serve have consistently left opponents in the dust and earned her a staggering 23 Grand Slam titles, just one shy of breaking the all-time record. Williams' unwavering passion for the game and continuous pursuit of excellence have made her not only an inspiration to countless female athletes but also a symbol of resilience and empowerment.

  • Lindsey Vonn
    United States of America
    894 votes
    • Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota
    • Profession: Alpine skier

    Considered one of the greatest alpine skiers in history, Lindsey Vonn's fearless approach and exceptional talent on the slopes have earned her a place in the record books as the winningest female skier of all time. Her incredible career includes numerous World Cup wins and World Championship titles, showcasing her ability to excel in a variety of events from downhill to Super-G. Vonn's determination to push through adversity and return to victory after multiple injuries demonstrates her ironclad mental strength, making her an icon in the world of sports.

  • Mikaela Shiffrin

    Mikaela Shiffrin

    United States of America
    537 votes
    • Birthplace: Vail, Colorado
    • Profession: Alpine skier

    Mikaela Shiffrin burst onto the alpine skiing scene as a prodigy, quickly asserting herself as one of the all-time greats in her sport. Her impeccable technique and agility have allowed her to excel in both slalom and giant slalom events, earning numerous World Cup titles and Olympic medals. Shiffrin's unwavering focus and drive for continuous improvement make her an exemplary role model for aspiring athletes everywhere.

  • Chris Evert
    United States of America
    832 votes
    • Birthplace: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    • Profession: Tennis player

    As a trailblazer in women's tennis, Chris Evert's breathtaking skill and poise on the court became synonymous with extraordinary success during the 1970s and 1980s. With an astonishing 18 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, Evert's extraordinary consistency and steely determination set the bar high for generations of future tennis stars. Her legendary rivalry with Martina Navratilova captivated fans and helped bolster the popularity of women's tennis worldwide.

  • Jenny Thompson
    United States of America
    556 votes
    • Birthplace: Danvers, Massachusetts
    • Profession: Swimmer

    Jenny Thompson's incredible prowess in the swimming pool set her apart from her competitors and solidified her as one of the most accomplished female swimmers in history. Her numerous Olympic medals put her amongst the most decorated Olympians of all time and are a testament to her speed, precision, and tenacity in the water. Thompson's enduring impact on the sport continues to inspire new generations of swimmers to break through barriers and strive for greatness.