We created a list of the Seven Wonders of the Sporting World (Athletes), which was comprised of only men. Here we have a go at creating a list for the greatest women athletes. We have also created lists of the 7 Wonders of the Sporting World (Venues), and 7 Wonders of the Sporting World (Events).
There are other lists of the greatest women athletes, such as the Bleacher Report list of the Top 50 female athletes ever, and the Sports Illustrated list of the Top 118 Female Athletes, but here we attempt to compress it down to just seven of the greatest, of all time, updated to include athletes from more recent times where there is a growth in women playing sport.
What constitutes a sporting wonder? It is not just skill and sporting results. A wonder must dominate in their chosen sport, be a good sports person, good role model for the sport, and have worldwide appeal so that their profile is known outside of their sporting circles.
Our 7 Female Wonders
As per usual for 7-wonder lists, the seven is listed in no particular order.
- Serena Williams — One of the greatest female tennis players ever, she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, and with her sister Venus won Williams won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.
- Jackie Joyner-Kersee — a 4-time Olympian and a 6-time Olympic medalist, with two gold in the heptathlon and one in the long jump. Sports Illustrated voted her the greatest female athlete of the 20th century.
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias — At the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she won gold in both the 80-meter hurdles and javelin throw, and took silver in the high jump. She won the British Ladies' Amateur golf tournament. She was the first (and still the only) woman in history to make the cut in a regular PGA Tour event. She also achieved All-American status in basketball.
- Annika Sorenstam — she is regarded as one of the best female golfers in history. During her 16-year professional career, she won 72 LPGA tournaments, including 10 majors. She was also eight-time LPGA Player of the Year, and famously competed in a men's tournament.
- Martina Navratilova — player with the best winning record (man or woman) in tennis history.
- Mia Hamm — she was a star of the U.S. national team, competing in four FIFA Women's World Cup tournaments and leading the US team at three Olympic Games.
- Fanny Blankers-Koen — a sprinter and hurdler who won four gold medals in the 1948 London Olympics. In the post-war years she set or equalled 12 world records in events as diverse as the long jump, the high jump, sprint and hurdling events and the Pentathlon. In 1999 the IAAF voted her the greatest female track and field athlete of the 20th century.
There were a few other names close to making this top 7, such as Nadia Comaneci, Billie Jean King, Ronda Rousey, Bonnie Blair and Lindsey Vonn. What do you think of the final top seven?
- 7 Wonders of the Sporting World (Male Athletes)
- 7 Wonders of the Sporting World (Venues)
- 7 Wonders of the Sporting World (Events)
- More 7 Wonders Lists
- Other lists of the greatest athletes in the world
- Who really is the greatest athlete of all time?
- Have your say of the greatest athlete
Commenting is closed on this page, though you can read some previous comments below which may answer some of your questions.
- Sarah Kennedy (2020)
I grew up paddling (the Olympic sport of sprint canoe- kayak). It's big in Europe and Nova Scotia, where I grew up, and globally, really, although it doesn't get much press (or money) in North America. As a kid, I remember holding Brigid Fischer, the legendary German kayaker, in complete awe. Her career spanned decades, and she was on top the whole time. Currently, there is a relatively new phenom in the paddling world: Lisa Carrington. Her career is also amazing, and she is still winning. A third amazing woman in our sport is Laurence Vincent-Lapointe, from Trois-Rivieres Quebec. She is women's canoe world champion several times over. Canoe is a new event for women (our sport is frankly sexist, so has yet to race women's canoe at the Olympics- shameful). Laurence and Lisa are both very good role models.Thought you might like to know.
- Dr. Horatiu Cristian BELU (2020)
missing Nadia Comaneci whose role in gymnastics is undeniable and it's role in Femele sport is more important than others in your list. It's true that she was in sport in Montreal Olympic time. But is only an opinion
- Janine Collinson (2020)
Hey thanks for you effort in putting our list together .
Canada wonder- Christine Sinclair
- John (2020)
Margaret Court before Wiilliams and Navratilova - singles, doubles and mixed doubles it's Court first, daylight second. There's got to be a couple of swimmers in it. Heather McKay deserves a place. There must be a stand out cyclist.
- Bill Pickard (2020)
NO Women's figure skaters? Gymnasts? OK, I am not a fan of 'performance' sports (because of subjective judging) being in the Olympics, but the best are still among the best athletes in the world.
- Karen Parnell (2020)
I think you have opened a real can of worms!
Very little recognition of athletes outside of North America. :0)
My top ten would be:
Dame Kelly Holmes
I hope this helps?
- Vishwas karmarkar (2020)
There are many more like the Russian pole vaulter, Yelena Isinbayeva ( right?). Suzi Susanti- Badminton etc.
- Benjamin Alexander (2020)
What about Ellyse Perry, she played in both world cup cricket and football, isn't she an inspiration