Sports
9.1k voters

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

Updated January 19, 2021 106.3k votes 9.1k voters 77.7k 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.

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  • Janica Kostelić1
    4,193
    597

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former...  more
  • Sandra Perković2
    572
    103

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Sandra Perković (born 21 June 1990) is a Croatian discus thrower. She is a two-time Olympic...  more
  • Monica Seles3
    911
    778

    BirthplaceNovi Sad, Serbia

    NationalityUnited States of America, Germany

    Monica Seles (; Hungarian: Szeles Mónika, pronounced [ˈsɛlɛʃ ˈmoːnikɒ]; Serbian: Моника Селеш,...  more
  • Betty Cuthbert4
    455
    384

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Elizabeth Alyse Cuthbert, (20 April 1938 – 6 August 2017) was an Australian athlete and a...  more
  • Katarina Witt5
    807
    657

    BirthplaceGermany

    NationalityGermany

    Katarina Witt (German pronunciation: [ˈkataʁiːna vɪt]; born 3 December 1965) is a retired...  more
  • Astrid Benöhr6
    439
    364

    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.

  • Blanka Vlašić7
    400
    334

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

    NationalityCroatia

    Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]; born 8 November 1983) is a...  more
  • Magdalena Neuner8
    435
    368

    Magdalena Neuner

    Age: 32

    BirthplaceGarmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Magdalena "Lena" Neuner (since her 2014 marriage legally Magdalena Holzer, born 9 February...  more
  • Meseret Defar9
    273
    217

    Meseret Defar

    Age: 36

    BirthplaceAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

    NationalityEthiopia

    Meseret Defar Tola (Amharic: መሰረት ደፋር; born 19 November 1983) is an Ethiopian long-distance...  more
  • Hayley Wickenheiser10

    BirthplaceShaunavon, Canada

    NationalityCanada

    PositionForward

    Hayley Wickenheiser (born August 12, 1978) is a Canadian former ice hockey player, and the...  more
  • Anni Friesinger-Postma11

    BirthplaceBad Reichenhall, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Anna ("Anni") Christine Friesinger-Postma (born 11 January 1977) is a German former speed...  more
  • Kajsa Bergqvist12
    371
    309

    Kajsa Bergqvist

    Age: 43

    BirthplaceSollentuna Municipality, Sweden

    NationalitySweden

    Kajsa Margareta Bergqvist (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈkajːsa ²bærjkvɪst]; born 12 October 1976...  more
  • Marina Lobatch13
    290
    231

    BirthplaceMinsk, Belarus

    Marina Vikentyevna Lobatch (Belarusian: Марына Вікенцьеўна Лобач; Russian: Марина Викентьевна...  more
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings14

    BirthplaceSanta Clara, California, United States of America

    NationalityUnited States of America

    Kerri Lee Walsh Jennings (born August 15, 1978) is an American professional beach volleyball...  more
  • Shelly-Ann Fraser15

    BirthplaceKingston, Jamaica

    NationalityJamaica

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (née Fraser on 27 December 1986) is a Jamaican track and field...  more
  • Lauren Jackson16
    287
    230

    BirthplaceAlbury, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    PositionCenter

    Lauren Elizabeth Jackson (born May 11, 1981) is an Australian former professional basketball...  more
  • Sandra Izbașa17
    172
    129

    BirthplaceBucharest, Romania

    NationalityRomania

    Sandra Raluca Izbașa (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈsandra izˈbaʃa]; born 18 June 1990) is a...  more
  • Stephanie Gilmore18
    250
    183

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on...  more
  • Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi19

    BirthplaceFinland

    NationalityFinland

    Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi (née Hämäläinen; born 10 September 1955) is a Finnish former...  more
  • Gabriela Soukalová20
    244
    195

    BirthplaceJablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic

    NationalityCzech Republic

    Gabriela Soukalová is a Czech biathlete. She won two Olympic silver medals at the 2014 Sochi...  more
  • Katrin Davidsdottir21
    95
    58

    Katrin Davidsdottir

  • Caroline Wozniacki22
    210
    155

    BirthplaceOdense, Denmark

    NationalityDenmark

    Caroline Wozniacki (R) (Danish: [kʰaːoliːnə vɒsniˈaki]; Polish: [vɔʑˈɲatskʲi]; born 11 July...  more
  • Kristin Otto23
    138
    77

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Kristin Otto (born 7 February 1966) is a German Olympic swimming champion. She is most famous...  more
  • Nicola Spirig24
    109
    67

    BirthplaceWinkel, Switzerland

    NationalitySwitzerland

    Nicola Spirig Hug (born 7 February 1982) is a Swiss professional triathlete. She is the 2012...  more
  • Minna Kauppi25
    159
    111

    BirthplaceFinland

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