Sports
8.6k voters

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

Updated October 20, 2020 108.0k votes 8.6k voters 75.3k views238 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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  • 1
    Janica Kostelić
    3,748
    616

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Sandra Perković
    548
    91

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Sandra Perković (born 21 June 1990) is a Croatian discus thrower. She is a two-time Olympic... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Katarina Witt
    830
    641

    BirthplaceStaaken, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Katarina Witt (German pronunciation: [ˈkataʁiːna vɪt]; born 3 December 1965) is a retired... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    Monica Seles
    939
    783

    BirthplaceNovi Sad, Serbia

    NationalityUnited States of America, Germany

    Monica Seles (; Hungarian: Szeles Mónika, pronounced [ˈsɛlɛʃ ˈmoːnikɒ]; Serbian: Моника Селеш,... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Betty Cuthbert
    469
    386

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Elizabeth Alyse Cuthbert, (20 April 1938 – 6 August 2017) was an Australian athlete and a... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Blanka Vlašić
    397
    314

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

    NationalityCroatia

    Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]; born 8 November 1983) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    Claudia Pechstein
    320
    245

    BirthplaceKaulsdorf

    NationalityGermany

    Claudia Pechstein (born 22 February 1972) is a German speed skater. She has won five Olympic... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    Astrid Benöhr
    446
    354

    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.

  • 9
    Stephanie Gilmore
    258
    172

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Sarah Sjöström
    77
    31

    BirthplaceSalem Municipality, Sweden

    NationalitySweden

    Sarah Fredrika Sjöström (Swedish: [²ɧøːˌstɾœmː]; born 17 August 1993) is a Swedish competitive... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Magdalena Neuner
    452
    375

    Magdalena Neuner

    Age: 32

    BirthplaceGarmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Magdalena "Lena" Neuner (since her 2014 marriage legally Magdalena Holzer, born 9 February... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Hayley Wickenheiser

    BirthplaceShaunavon, Canada

    NationalityCanada

    PositionForward

    Hayley Wickenheiser (born August 12, 1978) is a Canadian former ice hockey player, and the... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    Marina Lobatch
    298
    225

    BirthplaceMinsk, Belarus

    Marina Vikentyevna Lobatch (Belarusian: Марына Вікенцьеўна Лобач; Russian: Марина Викентьевна... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Anni Friesinger-Postma

    BirthplaceBad Reichenhall, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Anna ("Anni") Christine Friesinger-Postma (born 11 January 1977) is a German former speed... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Caroline Wozniacki
    216
    143

    BirthplaceOdense, Denmark

    NationalityDenmark

    Caroline Wozniacki (R) (Danish: [kʰaːoliːnə vɒsniˈaki]; Polish: [vɔʑˈɲatskʲi]; born 11 July... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Kristin Otto
    142
    76

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Kristin Otto (born 7 February 1966) is a German Olympic swimming champion. She is most famous... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Laura Ludwig
    86
    45

    BirthplaceBerlin, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Laura Ludwig (born 13 January 1986) is a German professional beach volleyball player, playing... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Maria Mutola
    209
    156

    BirthplaceMaputo, Mozambique

    NationalityMozambique

    Maria de Lurdes Mutola (born 27 October 1972) is a retired female track and field athlete... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Gabriela Soukalová
    246
    190

    BirthplaceJablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic

    NationalityCzech Republic

    Gabriela Soukalová is a Czech biathlete. She won two Olympic silver medals at the 2014 Sochi... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Nicola Spirig
    112
    64

    BirthplaceWinkel, Switzerland

    NationalitySwitzerland

    Nicola Spirig Hug (born 7 February 1982) is a Swiss professional triathlete. She is the 2012... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Katinka Hosszú
    207
    158

    BirthplacePécs, Hungary

    NationalityHungary

    Katinka Hosszú (Hungarian: [ˈkɒtiŋkɒ ˈhossuː]; born 3 May 1989) is a Hungarian competitive... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi

    BirthplaceFinland

    NationalityFinland

    Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi (née Hämäläinen; born 10 September 1955) is a Finnish former... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Edna Kiplagat
    240
    184

    BirthplaceUasin Gishu County, Kenya

    NationalityKenya

    Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat (born 15 September 1979) is a Kenyan long-distance runner. She is... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Sandra Izbașa
    174
    125

    BirthplaceBucharest, Romania

    NationalityRomania

    Sandra Raluca Izbașa (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈsandra izˈbaʃa]; born 18 June 1990) is a... more on Wikipedia
  • 25
    Meseret Defar
    276
    213

    Meseret Defar

    Age: 36

    BirthplaceAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

    NationalityEthiopia

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