Top 50 Female Athletes Ever

Kelsey GivensAnalyst IIAugust 4, 2011

Top 50 Female Athletes Ever

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    What do Yani Tseng, Mia Hamm, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Tracey Caulkins have in common?

    They are some of the greatest female athletes of all time.

    These female athletes, and others, are talented enough to rival and even surpass their male counterparts in any sport they compete in. They are fast, strong and have made some of the most impressive and memorable records in sports history.

    So here is a list of 50 of the greatest female athletes from across the sporting spectrum.

No. 50 Mary T. Meagher

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    Mary T. Meagher is a former Olympic and world record-holding swimmer. She not only set records, but managed to break her own as well. 

No. 49 Dawn Fraser

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    This famous athlete is a former Australian swimmer who is one of only two swimmers to ever win the same event twice. In this case the 100-meter freestyle. 

No. 48 Althea Gibson

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    A former No. 1 American tennis player, Althea Gibson not only was the first African-American woman to become a competitor in the game of tennis, but also the first woman to win a Grand Slam title. 

No. 47 Hannah Teter

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    Hannah Teter is one of the most well-known female snowboarders in the word. 

    So far in her career she has become an Olympic champion, winning the gold in the half pipe in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and has six World Cup championship wins under her belt. Pretty impressive for someone who is only 24. 

No. 46 Manon Rheaume

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    Not only has this hockey great won silver at the Olympics for her Canadian national team, but she is the only woman to have ever played in an NHL exhibition game. 

No. 45 Mary Decker Slaney

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    Mary Decker Slaney is one of the most well-known and most-recognized track athletes of all time. She set a total of 17 official and unofficial world records and 36 U.S. national records throughout her carer. 

No. 44 Janet Evans

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    An American long distance freestyle swimmer who has recently announced her comeback to the sport for the 2012 Olympics. Inspired by Dara Torres, maybe? 

No. 43 Anne Donovan

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    This former basketball player not only excelled at playing the game but coaching it as well when she became the only player to earn a national title as both a player and as a coach.  

No. 42 Marion Jones

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    This famous athlete was both a former track and field competitor as well as a former WNBA player. 

    Competing in both sports so successfully, she would be ranked higher, but in recent years it has come out that during her track and field days she took performance-enhancing drugs.  

No. 41 Margaret Court

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    This famous female athlete made a name for herself in the game of tennis by becoming the first woman to play in the open era and the second of only five women ever to win all four Grand Slam titles in one year. 

No. 40 Hayley Wickenheiser

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    Hayley Wickenheiser is known as one of the most talented and well-known female hockey players of all time. 

    She was the first woman to play professional hockey full-time in a position other than goalie and also played on the Canadian women's Olympic hockey team four times, winning three gold medals and one silver and collecting two MVPs along the way. 

No. 39 Wilma Rudolph

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    Once considered the fastest woman in the world, Wilma Rudolph competed twice in the Olympics, becoming the first woman to win three track and field gold medals all in one Olympics.

No. 38 Fabiola Da Silva

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    A professional inline skater, this aggressive competitor was the first woman to ever successfully complete a double backflip on a vert ramp.

    She has also earned seven X-Games gold medals and one silver, making her one of the most decorated women in the sport.   

No. 37 Picabo Street

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    She may have a lightly off-the-wall name, but she was once one of the greatest skiing competitors of all time.

    Picabo Street was the first woman ever to win the World Cup downhill season title in both 1995 and 1996. She also won gold in the 1998 Olympic games, as well as in the 1996 downhill race and world championship.

    In 2004 she was inducted to the National Ski Hall of Fame. 

No. 36 Nancy Lopez

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    One of the many greats in golf, Nancy Lopez won a total of 48 LPGA Tour events during her career.  

No. 35 Katarina Witt

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    This athlete seemed to be a jack of all trades. 

    She was both a German figure skater and model, who won gold medals at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic games as well as four world championship titles. 

    She has one of the most successful records in figure skating, making her one of the most talented and memorable skaters of all time.  

No. 34 Cammi Granato

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    Often considered one of the greatest women's hockey players to have ever graced the ice, Cammi Granato was the first woman to ever be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010. 

No. 33 Mary Lou Retton

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    This gymnast's vault landing may be one of the most memorable in sports history. Not only did she win gold at the 1984 Olympic games, but she was the first non-Eastern-European gymnast to do so.   

No. 32 Lisa Fernandez

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    Lisa Fernandez is a softball player who set the record for most strikeouts in a game, 25, while part of the U.S. national team. 

No. 31 Nadia Comaneci

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    Yet another gymnast who has made this list for her huge accomplishments in gymnastics.

    Not only did she earn three gold medals in the 1976 Olympics and two in 1980, but she is also one of the few gymnasts to have ever been awarded a perfect score of 10.  

No. 30 Yani Tseng

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    This name has come up quite a bit in the news lately.

    On July 31, Yani Tseng won the British Open for the second year in a row, giving her a fifth major title and making her the youngest player, male of female, to earn five titles.

    With such an impressive career at such a young age, it will be interesting to see where she takes her game from here.  

No. 29 Kristine Lilly

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    As one of the most successful soccer players in the world, male or female, Kristine Lilly retired from professional soccer in 2010 after serving 24 years on the national team and earning herself 352 caps, the most of any player ever in professional soccer. 

No. 28 Dorothy Hamill

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    Dorothy Hamill is one of the most recognized names in figure skating. During her career she became both a 1976 Olympic champion as well as a 1976 women's singles world champion. 

No. 27 Olga Korbut

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    Another great in the world of gymnastics, Olga Korbut won four gold medals and two silvers between the 1976 and 1980 Olympic games. 

No. 26 Diana Taurasi

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    Voted by fans as one of the "Top 15 Players in WNBA History," Diana Taurasi has shown on the court just what makes her such a great athlete.

No. 25 Peggy Fleming

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    Not only is this former figure skater a 1968 Olympic champion and three-time world champion, but she also turned her athletic career into a television career by becoming a figure skating commentator when she was ready to retire. 

No. 24 Michelle Akers

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    Not only is this woman a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, but she competed on both the 1991 and 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup-winning teams and won the Golden Boot award in 1991 for being the top scorer in the tournament.

No. 23 Nancy Lieberman

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    Nancy Lieberman is recognized as one of the greatest players in women's basketball. She has been inducted into many halls of fame including the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame, the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

    She eventually became a coach in the WNBA. 

No. 22 Sonja Henie

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    A forerunner of great skating athletes, throughout her career she became a three-time Olympic champion, won 10 world championships and six European championships, all while also working on her acting career.  

No. 21 Candace Parker

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    Candace Parker has been the first to do many things when it comes to the game of basketball.

    She is known as the first woman to not only dunk in an NCAA game, but the first to dunk twice in one game. She is also known as only the second woman ever to dunk in the WNBA.

No. 20 Marta Vieira Da Silva

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    Throughout Marta's career so far, she has been named the FIFA World Player of the Year four times, earned the FIFA Ballon d'Or title once, won a silver medal in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic games, was given the Golden Ball for being the MVP of the U-19 Women's Wold Championships and won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot in 2007 during the World Cup.

    She is arguably one of the most successful soccer players in the history of the game.   

No. 19 Dara Torres

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    Dara Torres made a huge, newsworthy comeback in 2008 when she competed in the Summer Olympics and won silver in the 50-meter freestyle, as well as in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and the 4x100-meter medley relay at the age of 41.

    She is the first swimmer to have competed in five Olympic games, and the oldest to have ever made the U.S. national team. 

No. 18 Teresa Edwards

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    Teresa Edwards has been recognized time and time again as one of the best female basketball players of all time. 

    She was named one of Sports Illustrated's "100 Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century" and, according to a report that came out on Thursday, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this month.  

No. 17 Serena Williams

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    Who doesn't know the name Serena Williams?

    Not only is she one of the most recognizable names in sports, she is also one of the most successful. She has been a No. 1 player twice and has been one of the only tennis players ever to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.  

No. 16 Julie Krone

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    One of only a handful of jockeys actually recognized by their sport, Julie Krone is also one of the most successful.

    Krone was the first woman to win a Triple Crown and is also the only woman to have ever won at Monmouth Park,  Belmont Park, Atlantic City Race Course, Gulfstream Park and The Meadowland.  

No. 15 Ann Meyers

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    The accomplishments of this basketball player are numerous, but some of them include being the first member of the U.S. national team to still be in high school, playing in the Olympics and winning at every level from high school all the way up to professional.

No. 14 Sheryl Swoopes

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    Being the first player to be signed into the WNBA, winning three Olympic gold medals and having some of the greatest offensive and defensive skills in the game are only a few of the accomplishments of this top female athlete.   

No. 13 Cheryl Miller

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    A former college basketball player turned coach who now works as a TNT NBA sideline reporter.  

No. 12 Chris Evert-Lloyd

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    Here is another tennis great that has made the list.

    Not only was she the No. 1 player in the world five times, but she also won 18 Grand Slam titles as well as seven championships at the French Open and six in the U.S. Open throughout her career. 

No. 11 Joan Benoit Samuelson

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    The first-ever gold medal-winner of the women's marathon in the 1984 Olympics, she still holds the record times for both the Chicago Marathon and the Olympic marathon. 

No. 10 Lisa Leslie (Tie)

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    Another great in the WNBA, Lisa Leslie was the No. 7 pick in the very first WNBA draft and has also won the league's MVP title four times throughout her career. Leslie has also won four Olympic gold medals and was the first woman to dunk in the WNBA.  

10 Billie Jean King (Tie)

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    The winner of 12 Grand Slam tennis titles during the course of her dominant career, King is perhaps better known for her "Battle of the Sexes" win over former Wimbledon champion Bobby Riggs in 1973 and for her advocacy of women's rights. '

No. 9 Steffi Graf

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    Another tennis great, Steffi Graf is a former World No. 1 player and ended her career with 22 Grand Slam singles titles as well as becoming the first, male of female, to win all four Grand Slam titles and an Olympic medal all in the same year. 

No. 8 Tracy Caulkins

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    Considered one of the greatest swimmers of all time, Tracy Caulkins is best known for her versatility in swimming.

    Throughout her career she set records in all four competitive strokes, won an Olympic gold medal, set five world records and 63 U.S. records.

No. 7 Bonnie Blair

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    Bonnie Blair was one of the greatest speed skaters of all time.

    During her career, she competed in four Olympic games for the U.S. and won a total of five gold medals and one bronze.

No. 6 Annika Sorenstam

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    One of the greatest female players of all time, Annika Sorenstam has the most wins of any female golfer in the game.  

No. 5 Mia Hamm

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    Possibly one of the most well-known soccer players in the world, Mia Hamm has scored more goals in her career than any other player, male or female, from the U.S. 

    As a member of the U.S. national team as well as a founding player of the Washington Freedom, Hamm was named the FIFA Player of the Year twice, the first two years the award was given out. 

No. 4 Florence Griffith-Joyner

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    Still hailed, even after her passing in 1998, as the fastest woman in the world, no one has ever been able to come close to the records she set in the 100-meter and 200-meter track and field events.

No. 3 Martina Navratilova

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    A former World No. 1 player, Martina Navratilova is possibly one of the most winning athletes in the history of tennis. Throughout her career she amassed 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles as well a total of 20 Wimbledon titles.  

No. 2 Babe Didrikson Zaharias

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    This woman is a pure athlete. Throughout her career she had major success in not one, not two, but three major sports—basketball, golf and track and field.

No. 1 Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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    And in the No. 1 spot on this list, Jackie Joyner-Kersee—one of the greatest athletes of all time, male or female.

    She is ranked among the best in the woman's heptathlon and long jump. And she was named the "Greatest Female Athlete" of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated.