Sports
9.3k voters

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

Updated January 19, 2021 104.4k votes 9.3k voters 78.7k views240 items

List RulesOpen 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, then head over and check out the highest-paid women in sports.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    4,458
    586

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former...  more
  • 2
    584
    106

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Sandra Perković (born 21 June 1990) is a Croatian discus thrower. She is a two-time Olympic...  more
  • 3
    910
    790

    BirthplaceNovi Sad, Serbia

    NationalityYugoslavia, United States of America, Hungary

    Monica Seles (; Hungarian: Szeles Mónika, pronounced [ˈsɛlɛʃ ˈmoːnikɒ]; Serbian: Моника Селеш,...  more
  • 4
    787
    652

    BirthplaceStaaken, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Katarina Witt (German pronunciation: [ˈkataʁiːna vɪt]; born 3 December 1965) is a retired...  more
  • 5
    399
    339

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]; born 8 November 1983) is a...  more
  • 6
    305
    251

    BirthplaceKaulsdorf

    NationalityGermany

    Claudia Pechstein (born 22 February 1972) is a German speed skater. She has won five Olympic...  more
  • 7
    95
    57

    Katrin Davidsdottir

  • 8
    443
    382

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Elizabeth Alyse Cuthbert, (20 April 1938 – 6 August 2017) was an Australian athlete and a...  more
  • 9
    425
    360

    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 (38km swimming, 1800 km cycling and 422 km running) with 7 d 19 h 8 min 23 sec.

  • 10
    266
    215

    Meseret Defar

    Age: 36

    BirthplaceAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

    NationalityEthiopia

    Meseret Defar Tola (Amharic: መሰረት ደፋር; born 19 November 1983) is an Ethiopian long-distance...  more
  • 11
    231
    184

    BirthplaceUasin Gishu County, Kenya

    NationalityKenya

    Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat (born 15 September 1979) is a Kenyan long-distance runner. She is...  more
  • 12
    423
    365

    Magdalena Neuner

    Age: 32

    BirthplaceGarmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Magdalena "Lena" Neuner (since her 2014 marriage legally Magdalena Holzer, born 9 February...  more
  • 13

    BirthplaceBad Reichenhall, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Anna ("Anni") Christine Friesinger-Postma (born 11 January 1977) is a German former speed...  more
  • 14
    156
    111

    BirthplaceFinland

    Minna Kauppi (born 25 November 1982 in Asikkala) is a Finnish orienteer living in Lahti. ...  more
  • 15

    BirthplaceKingston, Jamaica

    NationalityJamaica

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (née Fraser on 27 December 1986) is a Jamaican track and field...  more
  • 16
    136
    76

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Kristin Otto (born 7 February 1966) is a German Olympic swimming champion. She is most famous...  more
  • 17
    240
    179

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on...  more
  • 18

    BirthplaceFinland

    NationalityFinland

    Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi (née Hämäläinen; born 10 September 1955) is a Finnish former...  more
  • 19
    283
    230

    BirthplaceMinsk, Belarus

    Marina Vikentyevna Lobatch (Belarusian: Марына Вікенцьеўна Лобач; Russian: Марина Викентьевна...  more
  • 20
    171
    132

    BirthplaceBucharest, Romania

    NationalityRomania

    Sandra Raluca Izbașa (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈsandra izˈbaʃa]; born 18 June 1990) is a...  more
  • 21
    205
    166

    BirthplacePécs, Hungary

    NationalityHungary

    Katinka Hosszú (Hungarian: [ˈkɒtiŋkɒ ˈhossuː]; born 3 May 1989) is a Hungarian competitive...  more
  • 22
    118
    78

    BirthplaceBekoji

    NationalityEthiopia

    Derartu Tulu (Amharic: ደራርቱ ቱሉ; Afaan Oromo: Daraartuu Tulluu; born March 21, 1972) is an...  more
  • 23
    279
    228

    BirthplaceAlbury, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    PositionCenter

    Lauren Elizabeth Jackson (born May 11, 1981) is an Australian former professional basketball...  more
  • 24
    206
    158

    BirthplaceOdense, Denmark

    NationalityDenmark

    Caroline Wozniacki (R) (Danish: [kʰaːoliːnə vɒsniˈaki]; Polish: [vɔʑˈɲatskʲi]; born 11 July...  more
  • 25
    108
    69

    BirthplaceWinkel, Switzerland

    NationalitySwitzerland

    Nicola Spirig Hug (born 7 February 1982) is a Swiss professional triathlete. She is the 2012...  more