Sports

The Most Influential Athletes Right Now 

Ranker Sports
Updated August 5, 2019 13.4k votes 791 voters 2.2k views 70 items

List Rules Vote up the current athletes who continue to push the boundaries of their sport each time they play.

Whether they're top stars of their sport or they're changing the way the game's played, these are the most influential current athletes. Keep in mind, simply being the best isn't the only thing that constitutes an influential athlete. While these stars are certainly at the top of their class, they're also recognized for the contributions they make to the world of sports, among many other factors and achievements. All things considered, who do you think are the most influential athletes right now? Could they go down as the most influential athletes of all time?

When it comes to iconic athletes, no player may be making headlines and dominating their sport more than Lebron James. He breaks a record almost any time he steps on the court, making him one of the best current NBA players, as well as of all time. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and the MLB's Mike Trout are really no different. These star athletes continually prove themselves to be the best out right now—and they continue to contribute to their sport. Of course, there are plenty more names to consider in determining the most influential athletes actively competing. 

Check out the list of notable athletes below and vote up the sports stars you think are influencing generations and players to come. Also feel free to add others that may be missing from the list.

list ordered by
1
Maria Sharapova is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 31

Birthplace: Nyagan, Russia

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian: Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова, IPA: [mɐˈrʲijə ˈjʉrʲjɪvnə ʂɐˈrapəvə] (listen); born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. A United States ...more

More Maria Sharapova 

#162 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #135 of 410 The Most Beautiful Women Of 2020, Ranked #324 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

2
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 34

Birthplace: Santo António, Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro GOIH ComM (European Portuguese: [kɾiʃˈtjɐnu ʁoˈnaɫdu]; born 5 February 1985) is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Serie A club ...more

More Cristiano Ronaldo 

#67 of 275 The Hottest Men Of 2020, Ranked #3 of 1,419 The Best Soccer Players of All Time #738 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time

3
Roger Federer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 37

Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland

← Roger Federer (German pronunciation: [ˈrɔdʒər ˈfeːdərər]; born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 3 in men's singles tennis by the ...more

More Roger Federer 

#3 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #9 of 258 The Greatest Men's Tennis Players of All Time #1 of 89 The Greatest Male Tennis Players of the Open Era

4
Mikaela Shiffrin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Spector404 added Mikaela Shiffrin Age: 23

Birthplace: Vail, Colorado

Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin is an American World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team, specializing in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic, World ...more

More Mikaela Shiffrin 

#352 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #113 of 677 Rank the Sexiest Current Female Athletes #31 of 229 The Best Female Athletes of All Time

5
Novak Djokovic is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 31

Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia

Novak Djokovic (Serbian: Новак Ђоковић, romanized: Novak Đoković, pronounced [nôʋaːk dʑôːkoʋitɕ] (listen); born 22 May 1987) is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ...more

More Novak Djokovic 

#88 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #5 of 258 The Greatest Men's Tennis Players of All Time #327 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

6
Sebastian Vettel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Tattoo added Age: 31

Birthplace: Heppenheim, Germany

Sebastian Vettel (German pronunciation: [zeˈbasti̯an ˈfɛtl̩]; born 3 July 1987) is a German racing driver who races in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari. He is a four-time Formula One World ...more
7
Rafael Nadal is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 32

Birthplace: Manacor, Spain

Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera (Catalan: [rəf(ə)ˈɛl nəˈðal pəˈɾeɾə], Spanish: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa]; born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked ...more

More Rafael Nadal 

#34 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #286 of 343 The Most Obnoxious Athletes #411 of 532 Famous Men You'd Want to Have a Beer With

8
Kevin Mayer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Kevin Mayer
9
Ilya Zakharov is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Ilya Zakharov
10
Manuel Neuer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Tattoo added Age: 32

Birthplace: Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Manuel Peter Neuer (German pronunciation: [ˈmaːnu̯eːl ˈnɔʏ.ɐ, -ɛl -]; born 27 March 1986) is a German professional footballer who plays as a goalkeeper and captain for both Bayern Munich and the ...more

More Manuel Neuer 

#27 of 1,419 The Best Soccer Players of All Time #218 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #45 of 357 The Best Current Soccer Players

11
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 32

Birthplace: Sherwood Content, Jamaica

Usain St Leo Bolt (; born 21 August 1986) is a retired Jamaican sprinter. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. Owing to his achievements and ...more

More Usain Bolt 

#4 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #766 of 2,444 The Most Influential People of All Time #309 of 469 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

12
Max Heß is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Max Heß
13
Annie Thorisdottir is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Annie Thorisdottir
14
Charlotte Kalla is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Charlotte Kalla Age: 32
15
Dafne Schippers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Dafne Schippers Age: 26

Birthplace: Utrecht, Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dafne Schippers is a Dutch athlete competing in heptathlon and the sprints.

More Dafne Schippers 

#198 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #134 of 319 The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models #84 of 677 Rank the Sexiest Current Female Athletes

16
Karsten Warholm is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Karsten Warholm
17
Katinka Hosszú is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Age: 29

Birthplace: Pécs, Hungary

Katinka Hosszú (Hungarian: [ˈkɒtiŋkɒ ˈhossuː]; born 3 May 1989) is a Hungarian competitive swimmer specialized in individual medley events. She is a three-time Olympic champion and a ...more

More Katinka Hosszú 

#1,306 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #44 of 229 The Best Female Athletes of All Time #19 of 249 The Best Olympic Athletes in Swimming

18
Johannes Vetter is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Johannes Vetter
19
Gesa Felicitas Krause is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Age: 26

Birthplace: Ehringshausen, Germany

Gesa Felicitas Krause is a German athlete who specialises in the 3000 m steeplechase. In the 2013 European Athletics U23 Championships, she won in a new championship record time of 9:38,91 min. ...more
20
Virat Kohli is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 30

Birthplace: Delhi, India

Virat Kohli (pronunciation ; born 5 November 1988) is an Indian cricketer who currently captains the India national team. A right-handed top-order batsman, Kohli is regarded as one of the best ...more
21
Neymar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 27

Birthplace: Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Brazilian Portuguese: [nejˈmaʁ dɐ ˈsiwvɐ ˈsɐ̃tus ˈʒũɲoʁ]; born 5 February 1992), commonly known as Neymar Jr. or simply Neymar, is a Brazilian professional ...more

More Neymar 

#22 of 1,419 The Best Soccer Players of All Time #1,439 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 357 The Best Current Soccer Players

22
Manny Pacquiáo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Age: 40

Birthplace: Kibawe, Philippines

Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao, PLH ( PAK-ee-ow; Tagalog: [pɐkˈjaʊ]; born December 17, 1978) is a Filipino professional boxer and politician, currently serving as a senator of the Philippines. ...more

More Manny Pacquiáo 

#1,936 of 2,044 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #1,416 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #4 of 188 The Best Boxers of All Time

23
Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Age: 32

Birthplace: California, United States of America

Ronda Jean Rousey (; born February 1, 1987) is an American professional wrestler, actress, author, and former mixed martial artist and judoka. She is currently signed to WWE, and performs on the ...more

More Ronda Rousey 

22 Hardcore Facts About Ronda Rousey #518 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #67 of 319 The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

24
Ryu So-Yeon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Ryu So-Yeon Age: 28

Birthplace: South Korea

So Yeon Ryu, also known as Ryu So-yeon, is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour and on the LPGA of Korea Tour. She won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.
25
Laura Dahlmeier is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Age: 25

Birthplace: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Laura Dahlmeier is a German biathlete. Dahlmeier started in her first world cup races in the 2012/13-season. In 2014 she participated in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. She was officially ...more

More Laura Dahlmeier 

#1,367 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #185 of 677 Rank the Sexiest Current Female Athletes #64 of 229 The Best Female Athletes of All Time