ESPN Top 40 Female athletes of the past 40 years

Here is a list of the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years, compiled in June 2012 by the team at ESPN. See more about the World's Greatest Female Athlete Ever.

Top 40 from 1972 - 2012

rank athlete sport
1 Mia Hamm Soccer
2 Martina Navratilova Tennis
3 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Track and Field
4 Annika Sorenstam Golf
5 Lisa Leslie Basketball
6 Bonnie Blair Speedskating
7 Chris Evert Tennis
8 Nadia Comaneci Gymnastics
9 Steffi Graf Tennis
10 Serena Williams Tennis
11 Billie Jean King Tennis
12 Florence Griffith-Joyner Track and Field
13 Cheryl Miller Basketball
14 Katarina Witt Figure skating
15 Janet Evans Swimming
16 Sheryl Swoopes Basketball
17 Ann Meyers Drysdale Basketball
18 Lisa Fernandez Softball
19 Lindsey Vonn Skiing
20 Michelle Kwan Figure skating
21 Venus Williams Tennis
22 Marta Vieira da Silva Soccer
23 Tracy Caulkins Swimming
24 Nancy Lopez Golf
25 Dara Torres Swimming
26 Chamique Holdsclaw Basketball
27 Michelle Akers Soccer
28 Grete Waitz Distance Running
29 Nancy Lieberman Basketball
30 Gail Devers Track and Field
31 Joan Benoit Distance Running
32 Mary T. Meagher Swimming
33 Abby Wambach Soccer
34 Flo Hyman Volleyball
35 Diana Taurasi Basketball
36 Kristine Lilly Soccer
37 Cammi Granato Hockey
38 Mary Lou Retton Gymnastics
39 Julie Krone Jockey
40 Fu Mingxia Diving

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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