Sports
9.1k voters

The Best Female Athletes of All Time

Updated January 19, 2021 106.2k votes 9.1k voters 77.5k 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
    4,163
    596

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Janica Kostelić (Croatian pronunciation: [janitsa kǒstelitɕ]; born 5 January 1982) is a former...  more
  • Sandra Perković2
    570
    102

    BirthplaceZagreb, Croatia

    NationalityCroatia

    Sandra Perković (born 21 June 1990) is a Croatian discus thrower. She is a two-time Olympic...  more
  • Katarina Witt3
    804
    657

    BirthplaceGermany

    NationalityGermany

    Katarina Witt (German pronunciation: [ˈkataʁiːna vɪt]; born 3 December 1965) is a retired...  more
  • Monica Seles4
    909
    778

    BirthplaceNovi Sad, Serbia

    NationalityUnited States of America, Germany

    Monica Seles (; Hungarian: Szeles Mónika, pronounced [ˈsɛlɛʃ ˈmoːnikɒ]; Serbian: Моника Селеш,...  more
  • Blanka Vlašić5
    397
    328

    BirthplaceSplit, Croatia, Yugoslavia

    NationalityCroatia

    Blanka Vlašić (Croatian pronunciation: [ˈblaːŋka ˈʋlaʃitɕ]; born 8 November 1983) is a...  more
  • Astrid Benöhr6
    439
    363

    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.

  • Magdalena Neuner7
    435
    366

    Magdalena Neuner

    Age: 32

    BirthplaceGarmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Magdalena "Lena" Neuner (since her 2014 marriage legally Magdalena Holzer, born 9 February...  more
  • Betty Cuthbert8
    453
    383

    BirthplaceSydney, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Elizabeth Alyse Cuthbert, (20 April 1938 – 6 August 2017) was an Australian athlete and a...  more
  • Claudia Pechstein9
    314
    253

    BirthplaceKaulsdorf

    NationalityGermany

    Claudia Pechstein (born 22 February 1972) is a German speed skater. She has won five Olympic...  more
  • Hayley Wickenheiser10

    BirthplaceShaunavon, Canada

    NationalityCanada

    PositionForward

    Hayley Wickenheiser (born August 12, 1978) is a Canadian former ice hockey player, and the...  more
  • Stephanie Gilmore11
    250
    183

    BirthplaceMurwillumbah, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Stephanie Louise Gilmore is an Australian professional surfer and seven-time world champion on...  more
  • Katrin Davidsdottir12
    95
    56

    Katrin Davidsdottir

  • Anni Friesinger-Postma13

    BirthplaceBad Reichenhall, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Anna ("Anni") Christine Friesinger-Postma (born 11 January 1977) is a German former speed...  more
  • Edna Kiplagat14
    238
    186

    BirthplaceUasin Gishu County, Kenya

    NationalityKenya

    Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat (born 15 September 1979) is a Kenyan long-distance runner. She is...  more
  • Caroline Wozniacki15
    210
    152

    BirthplaceOdense, Denmark

    NationalityDenmark

    Caroline Wozniacki (R) (Danish: [kʰaːoliːnə vɒsniˈaki]; Polish: [vɔʑˈɲatskʲi]; born 11 July...  more
  • Lauren Jackson16
    287
    229

    BirthplaceAlbury, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    PositionCenter

    Lauren Elizabeth Jackson (born May 11, 1981) is an Australian former professional basketball...  more
  • Marina Lobatch17
    290
    229

    BirthplaceMinsk, Belarus

    Marina Vikentyevna Lobatch (Belarusian: Марына Вікенцьеўна Лобач; Russian: Марина Викентьевна...  more
  • Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi18

    BirthplaceFinland

    NationalityFinland

    Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi (née Hämäläinen; born 10 September 1955) is a Finnish former...  more
  • Sally McLellan19
    116
    77

    BirthplacePaddington, Sydney, Australia

    NationalityAustralia

    Sally Pearson, OAM (née McLellan; born 19 September 1986) is a retired Australian athlete. She...  more
  • Derartu Tulu20
    121
    77

    BirthplaceBekoji, Ethiopia

    NationalityEthiopia

    Derartu Tulu (Amharic: ደራርቱ ቱሉ; Afaan Oromo: Daraartuu Tulluu; born March 21, 1972) is an...  more
  • Shelly-Ann Fraser21

    BirthplaceKingston, Jamaica

    NationalityJamaica

    Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, OD (née Fraser on 27 December 1986) is a Jamaican track and field...  more
  • Kristin Otto22
    138
    77

    BirthplaceLeipzig, Germany

    NationalityGermany

    Kristin Otto (born 7 February 1966) is a German Olympic swimming champion. She is most famous...  more
  • Gabriela Soukalová23
    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
  • Kerri Walsh Jennings24

    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
  • Sandra Izbașa25
    172
    129

    BirthplaceBucharest, Romania

    NationalityRomania

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