Influential The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time  

Ranker Sports
130 votes 25 voters 30 items

List Rules Vote up the most influential female athletes who changed their sport.

When it comes to the most influential female athletes of all time, who do you think tops the list? While being one of the best in their respective sports is certainly a qualifying factor, there's plenty more to consider in determining just which women had the greatest influence on generations of females to come. Of course, all these stars will go down as some of the greatest female athletes, but who changed the game for women the most? Who's the most iconic? That's up to you to decide. 

From track and field to tennis, the most influential female athletes span a range of sports—and some have even competed with top male athletes. Some of the most notable women in sports include Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, soccer star Mia Hamm, and skiing phenom Lindsey Vonn, among many other iconic females. In short, the list of influential ladies below features some of the greatest female athletes of all time, and some of the most influential athletes right now.

Check out all the famous female athletes below and cast your votes for those you think had the greatest influence. You can also add others to the list if you think they deserve to be considered.  

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Serena Williams is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Serena Williams Tennis Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player who is currently ranked No. 1 in women's singles tennis. The Women's Tennis Association has ranked her World No. 1 in singles on ...more

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Mia Hamm is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Mia Hamm Soccer (Football) Mariel Margaret "Mia" Hamm-Garciaparra is a retired American professional soccer player. Hamm played many years as a forward for the United States women's national soccer team and was ...more

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Billie Jean King is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Billie Jean King Tennis Billie Jean King is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women's doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles. King won the ...more

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8 3
Jackie Joyner-Kersee is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Jackie Joyner-Kersee Track & Field Jacqueline "Jackie" Joyner-Kersee is a retired American athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women's heptathlon as well as in the women's long jump. She won ...more

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Babe Didrikson Zaharias is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Babe Didrikson Zaharias Golf, Track & Field Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias was an American athlete who achieved most success in golf, basketball, and track and field.

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Martina Navratilova is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Martina Navratilova Tennis Martina Navratilova is a retired Czech and American tennis player and coach. Billie Jean King, former World No. 1 player, said in 2006 that Navratilova is "the greatest singles, doubles and ...more

7
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Althea Gibson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Althea Gibson Tennis, Golf Althea Gibson was an American tennis player and professional golfer, and the first black athlete to cross the color line of international tennis. In 1956, she became the first person of color to ...more

8
6 3
Lindsey Vonn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Lindsey Vonn Skiing Lindsey Caroline Vonn is an American World Cup alpine ski racer on the United States Ski Team. She has won four World Cup championships—one of two female skiers to do so, along with Annemarie ...more

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5 2
Danica Patrick is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Danica Patrick Racing Danica Sue Patrick is an American auto racing driver, model, and advertising spokeswoman. She is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing—her win in the 2008 Indy ...more

10
5 2
Lisa Leslie is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Lisa Leslie Basketball Lisa Deshaun Leslie is an American former professional women's basketball player who played in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP and a four-time Olympic gold medal winner. The number seven ...more

11
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Gertrude Ederle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Gertrude Ederle Swimming Gertrude Caroline Ederle was an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and former world record-holder in five events. In 1926, she became the first woman to swim across the English ...more

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Steffi Graf is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Steffi Graf Tennis Stefanie Maria "Steffi" Graf is a German former world No. 1 tennis player. Graf won 22 Grand Slam singles titles. Her 22 singles titles is second all time behind Margaret Court, and ...more

The Greatest Baseball Players of All Time

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Michelle Akers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Michelle Akers Soccer (Football) Michelle Anne Akers is a former leading American soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victory by the United States. She won the Golden Boot as the top ...more

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Misty May-Treanor is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Misty May-Treanor Beach Volleyball Misty Elizabeth May-Treanor is a retired American professional beach volleyball player. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and as of August 2012 the most successful female beach ...more

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1 0
Nancy Lieberman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Nancy Lieberman Basketball Nancy Elizabeth Lieberman, nicknamed "Lady Magic", is a former professional basketball player who played and coached in the WNBA. Lieberman is regarded as one of the greatest figures ...more

16
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Jessica Mendoza is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Jessica Mendoza Softball Jessica Ofelia Mendoza is an American, former collegiate 4-time First Team All-American softball player and sportscaster of Mexican descent originally from Camarillo, California. She played at ...more

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Florence Griffith Joyner is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Florence Griffith Joyner Track & Field Florence Delorez Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete. She is considered the fastest woman of all time based on the fact that the world records she set ...more

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Bonnie Blair is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Bonnie Blair Speed Skating Bonnie Kathleen Blair is a retired American speedskater. She is one of the top skaters of her time, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United ...more

19
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Nancy Lopez is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Nancy Lopez Golf Nancy Marie Lopez is an American professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1977 and won 48 LPGA Tour events during her LPGA career, including three major championships.

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Ronda Rousey is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Ronda Rousey MMA Ronda Jean Rousey is an American mixed martial artist, judoka and actress. She is the first and current UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion, as well as the last Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight ...more

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Abby Wambach is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Abby Wambach Soccer (Football) Mary Abigail "Abby" Wambach is an American soccer player, coach, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year. Wambach has played for the United States ...more

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Nadia Comăneci is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Nadia Comăneci Gymnastics Nadia Elena Comăneci is a Romanian former gymnast, winner of three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in ...more

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Mary Lou Retton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Mary Lou Retton Gymnastics Mary Lou Retton is a retired American gymnast. At the 1984 Summer Olympics, she won a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals. Her ...more

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Peggy Fleming is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Peggy Fleming Figure Skating Peggy Gail Fleming is an American figure skater. She is the 1968 Olympic Champion in Ladies' singles and a three-time World Champion. Fleming has been a television commentator on figure skating ...more

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Kerri Walsh Jennings Beach Volleyball Kerri Lee Walsh Jennings is an American professional beach volleyball player. Walsh Jennings and teammate Misty May-Treanor were the gold medalists in beach volleyball at the 2004, 2008, and ...more

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Tracy Caulkins is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Tracy Caulkins Swimming Tracy Anne Stockwell, OAM, née Tracy Anne Caulkins, is an American former competition swimmer, three-time Olympic gold medalist, five-time world champion, and former world record-holder ...more

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Chris Evert is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Chris Evert Tennis Christine Marie "Chris" Evert, known as Chris Evert-Lloyd from 1979 to 1987, is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player from the United States. She won 18 Grand Slam singles ...more

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Jackie Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Jackie Mitchell Baseball Virne Beatrice "Jackie" Mitchell Gilbert was one of the first female pitchers in professional baseball history. Pitching for the Chattanooga Lookouts Class AA minor league baseball ...more

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Wilma Rudolph is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Wilma Rudolph Track & Field Wilma Glodean Rudolph was an Olympic champion. Rudolph was considered the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and competed in two Olympic Games, in 1956 and in 1960. In the 1960 Summer ...more

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Sonja Henie is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential Female Athletes of All Time
Sonja Henie Figure Skating Sonja Henie was a Norwegian figure skater and film star. She was a three-time Olympic Champion in Ladies' Singles, a ten-time World Champion and a six-time European Champion. Henie won more ...more