The 25 Greatest Female Athletes of All-Time

March is Women's History Month.
And while no awareness campaign will ever put an end to WNBA jokes, it's also good to remember that there have been many great female athletes.
Here are the Top 25 of all-time.

#25 —Sue Sally Hale
Believe it or not, the early 1950s Southern California polo scene was a little sexist. But it got a bit of a shock when it found out that one of its best, most aggressive players was actually a lady. When the rules forbade women from playing, Sue Sally Hale snuck into games by wearing a baggy shirt, drawing a mustache on her face with mascara, and playing as a man named Jones. She then proceeded to crush her opponents. Some liken her rise to Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night. Others, toJust One of the Guys. To still others, the bizarroJuwanna Mann. That’s high praise, folks.
(Note: image is from a Salma Hayek guest appearance on Conan, not of Ms. Hale. But that's probably close to what Hale looked like playing polo, maybe minus the unibrow. It was either this or a picture of Barbra Streisand in Yentl. You're welcome.)

#24 — Janet Evans
In 1987, Evans broke the world records in the 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle swimming events. During her career, she broke several other things – vases, glasses, phones – but it is the swimming records for which she is most known. She dominated her opponents with her aggressive “windmill” style stroke that enabled her to dunk opponents’ heads under water during crucial moments of races. She’s won the most national titles (24) of any swimmer and, in 1996, was awarded by being freed from captivity and she now lives again in open sea.
Here Ms. Evans implores you to teach kids how to swim. But please: no fat kids. No one wants to see them at a pool.

#23 — Picabo Street
Picabo Street was made for the straight-ahead style of alpine racing, possibly because her first ski instructor forgot to teach her how to make turns. She claimed gold medals at the 1998 Winter Olympics and 1996 World Championships as well as World Cup victories in 1995 and 1996, but her biggest accomplishment was winning a piece of the Agrocrag during her cameo on Nickelodeon’sGuts. Entered into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 2004, Picabo Street will forever be remembered for having the weirdest name ever.

Watch Picabo Street on Nickelodeon GUTS in Entertainment|View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

#22 —Manon Rheaume
Not only was Rheaume, a goaltender, the first and only woman to play in an NHL exhibition game, records show that she may have been the first and only woman to ever attend an NHL game not wearing a helmet made of Aqua Net. The Canadian Rheaume became something of a minor celebrity after appearing in preseason games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 and 1993. Although she never made an NHL roster, stalling out in the minors saved her the deep embarrassment of having to tell people that she once played for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Yeah, Letterman probably tried to have sex with her.

#21 — Jennie Finch
While pitching for the University of Arizona, softball phenom Finch piled up 119 wins, including a flawless 32-0 record her junior year. She also struck out over a thousand batters and won a Player of the Year award, which means she could – at worst – be the #3 starter for the Kansas City Royals. Just as impressively, Finch also won Olympic medals in 2004 and 2008 and has managed to pull off the rare feat of playing in hundreds of softball games while never once holding a beer in her non-glove hand.
Also, Jennie Finch f—king LOVES avacados.

#20 — Mary Lou Retton
In 1984 the diminutive Retton won the all-around gymnastics gold in the Olympics to become the first woman from outside of Eastern Europe to ever take the title. Sure, it didn’t hurt that the Eastern Bloc boycotted those games, but Retton would have been tough for anyone to beat and if you think otherwise you're nothing but a dirty Commie. Still not impressed by an Olympic gold? She’s also the first woman ever to appear on a Wheaties box. She appeared in life-size.

#19 — Pat Summitt
While not an athlete, Summitt earns her spot on the list as a coach. In her 36 years as the head basketball coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, Summitt has racked up an amazing eight NCAA championships to go along with 15 SEC championships. Some analysts credit her brilliant recruiting for her triumphs. Others say Summitt’s success is due to her terrifyingly intense eyes being portals directly into the bowels of Hell that frighten players into performing well. On top of that, she further advanced women’s sports by wearing a cheerleader outfit to a Vols men’s game, helping scare a generation of boys out of sexist, chauvinistic cheerleader fantasies.

#18 — Joan Benoit Samuelson
American Joan Benoit Samuelson, a former skier, impressively won the first-ever women’s Olympic marathon in 1984 in just two hours, 24 minutes. Even more impressively, she ran an entire marathon without bothering friends and coworkers to donate to some random charity they didn’t care about. Her other titles include a 1979 win in the Boston Marathon, in which she was booed for not wearing any Red Sox apparel, and the 1985 Chicago Marathon, which featured a link sausage as the finish line tape.
Yay, Joan!

#17 — Amanda Whurlitzer
Although only 11 years old, Whurlitzer very nearly pitched the Bad News Bears to a league championship. Despite being born to a mother with so little self-respect that she would date Walter Matthau, Whurlitzer managed to maintain her sharp tongue and her roaring fastball. Best of all, she had the dignity to decline appearances inThe Bad News Bears in Breaking TrainingandThe Bad News Bears Go to Japan, thereby keeping her ERA down and her Rotten Tomatoes score up.
(Note: image may be of Amanda Whurlitzer. Or it could be of Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. Not sure.)

#16 — Peggy Fleming
Fleming’s gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics single handedly put figure skating on the map in America, which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how much you like axels, lutzes and men in women's clothing. Fleming piled up five straight national titles and three straight world championships throughout her career and is now a commentator and breast cancer activist. None of these achievements excuse her for appearing inBlades of Glory, but it’s a good start.
The key to Fleming's gold in '68 was avoiding the thin part of the ice on the pond which swallowed up all the other skaters.

#15 — Cheryl Miller
Miller’s achievements on the basketball court are undeniable. She was a four-time All-American, and she also won three Naismith Player of the Year trophies while at USC. More impressively, she’s been Reggie Miller’s older sister for nearly 45 years and has yet to murder him for being an annoying jackass. She later went on to be a head coach in the WNBA, which puts her in the elite company of Bill Laimbeer, Muggsy Bogues, and some guy with a clipboard who just started showing up for Minnesota Lynx practices.
You know, on second thought, maybe Cheryl Miller is as annoying as her brother. Perhaps even more so.

#14 — Sonja Henie
Without Sonja Henie, there could be no Tonya Harding. Henie, a Norwegian figure skater, won three straight Olympic golds and 10 straight world titles in the 1920s and 1930s, and her skating outfits almost single-handedly kept the Norwegian sequin industry afloat during the Depression. She later drew controversy due to her close and cozy relationship with Nazis like Hitler and Goebbels, but really, is that really any more offensive that Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth?
Charming!

#13 — Ruffian
How good was Ruffian? In every race the filly ever ran, she was in the lead at every point of call. She set new race records while winning ten races and was so dominant that even Secretariat’s trainer said she might have been better than his legendary stallion. Sadly, Ruffian was euthanized after shattering a leg in a match race against Kentucky Derby winner Foolish Pleasure in 1975. But even in death, she kept winning races, as her body surely provided sustenance for untold scores of championship winning greyhounds.

#12 — Bonnie Blair
By winning five gold medals and one bronze medal between 1988 and 1994, Blair helped put speedskating on the map of things that Americans remember exist once every four years. Her 1994Sports IllustratedSportsman of the Year award and 11 World Cup points championships only underscore the brilliance of her on-ice strategy: skating faster than everyone else. She married fellow Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank, so no doubt their children look like quads with eyes.
Fun Fact: Bonnie Blair's family is a bunch of lazy a—holes.

#11 — Billie Jean King
Considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, King won a wealth of Grand Slam titles in singles tournaments, doubles tournaments, and even occasionally in tournaments that she didn’t even attend. Always an advocate for equality among men and women, King challenged tennis star Bobby Riggs and defeated him in the "Battle of the Sexes" match in 1973. She later followed up Garry Kasparov's chess win over Big Blue by beating an IBM computer at tennis, a definitive blow for humans over the machines.

#10 — Lisa Leslie
Not only does the retired forward have four Olympic gold medals as part of USA Basketball’s vaunted “Indifference Team,” she also played before literally dozens of fans en route to a pair of WNBA championships. Her career highlights include the time when a confused Jack Nicholson went to the Staples Center mistakenly thinking there was a Lakers game and stayed for most of a quarter. The three-time WNBA MVP became the first woman to dunk in a WNBA game in 2003, leading her Los Angeles Sparks to an impressive 2-0 victory.
Heyyyyyy. Those aren't sound fundamentals! The WNBA marketing machine is full of crap!

#9 — Shaun White
Whitebecame a sex symbol for both her snowboarding ability and her flowing, gorgeous red hair. Considering all that she's accomplished in the halfpipe, we can only hope the next thing this vixen will do is appear in Playboy. We would be so stoked.

#8 — Nadia Comeneci
At the 1976 Olympics, Comaneci brought the gymnastics world its first perfect 10 – the closest previous thing had involved Bo Derek falling off of a balance beam – when she destroyed the uneven bars in the compulsory round. She went on to win the all-around gold and four other medals at those Games despite being just 14 years old. Comaneci followed up this performance with four more medals in 1980, but she’d probably give it all up for a chance to atone for her failure to make it past Week 2 of the 2008 season ofThe Celebrity Apprentice.
Eh. This doesn't look so hard.

#7 — Steffi Graf
Before Steffi Graf came along, people thought a Golden Slam was either an unspeakably disgusting sex act or an unadvertised menu item at Denny’s. Graf’s 1988 changed all that. Not only did Graf win all four Grand Slam tournaments that year, she also grabbed an Olympic gold medal for a “Golden Slam.” By the time she retired in 1999, Graff had ridden her crushing forehand to 22 Slam titles and over $20 million in career earnings, which was almost enough to cover husband Andre Agassi’s meth-and-hair-replacement-therapy costs for an entire year.
Andre Agassi's voice gets high when he's nervous:

#6 — Martina Navratilova
Billie Jean King once called Navratilova "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived,” and if anything, King wasn’t praising her enough. Navratilova managed to rack up a total of 59 Grand Slam championships all while wearing glasses that she stole from a particularly nerdy Czech accountant. Off the court, she helped millions of teenage boys learn the valuable lesson that not all lesbians are necessarily sexy, and for that, we salute her.

#5 — Mia Hamm
Hamm has the unique distinction of scoring the most international soccer goals (158) while being attractive. Along the way, she picked up four NCAA titles, two World Cup championships, and three Olympic medals. Her reward for so much dominance? Being married to Nomar Garciaparra, who repeatedly gets out of bed mid-intercourse to adjust his batting gloves. In 2007 Hamm had twin daughters by Garciaparra; those girls are going to look great on some softball team’s disabled list in a few years.
(Note: this is not a picture of Hamm, but of her World Cup teammate, Brandi Chastain. This will teach her not to show her bra.)

#4 — Annika Sorenstam
Before leaving the game in 2008, Swedish golfer Sorenstam won an eye-popping 72 LPGA tournaments, including 10 majors. In 2003 she became the first female golfer to play in a men’s PGA event in over 50 years, and just as impressively, she managed to maintain a platonic, friendly rivalry with Tiger Woods without ever sleeping with him. To commemorate this Swede’s stunning achievements on the course, IKEA has also named several stylish end tables in her honor.

#3 — Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Despite being encumbered with a heavy hyphen, Joyner-Kersee managed to win six Olympic medals in the heptathlon and long jump. Although scholars don’t know how exactly many events comprise a heptathlon – most guess the number is either six, seven, or 300ish – it’s safe to say that Joyner-Kersee was a very, very good athlete. She also won several hundred nail-growing competitions during her career. In fact, in most races she won she was trailing by several yards, only to reach out and break the tape first from 20-feet back with her nails.Sports illustrated for Womennamed Joyner-Kersee the top female athlete of the 20thcentury, an honor that earned her copies of all 20 issues ofSports Illustrated for Womenthat were ever sold.
Joyner-Kersee would also like you to take a few simple steps to avoid the flu. Watch this video to see. Ooops! Too late. You already clicked your bacteria-covered mouse. You might die now.

#2 — Anna Kournikova
There are a lot of naysayers out there who claim that achieving true success in sports requires “talent.” “Winning.” “Not marrying Sergei Fedorov in a secret wedding.” Not only are these people jerks, they’re also wrong. Kournikova shows that all you really need is a willingness to play doubles with someone as unlikable as Martina Hingis and you can pick up two Slam titles. Then all of the lad mag covers and Latin pop stars in the world will be yours. Among her other notable accomplishments is her annual swimsuit calendar, which have proven crucial in keeping horny 13-year-old boys apprised of the day’s date.
[Sorry. Despite an exhaustive search, it seems no photos or videos of Anna Kournikova exist on the Internet. So just take our word for it: she's fairly attractive.]

#1 — Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Pick a sport. Didrikson probably could have crushed you at it. In 1932, Olympic rules stated that Didrikson could only participate in three events. It was an easy choice for her since she already held the world record in javelin, 80m hurdles, and high jump. She came home from the Games with two golds and a silver and turned her attention to golf, where she won 10 LPGA majors, including a Grand Slam in 1950. Oh, and she was also an All-American in basketball. Sadly, she never got a chance to excel at Slamball since she died 46 years before the sport’s debut.
As you can see, Didrikson earned the nickname "Babe" in the same way that obese men are sometimes called "Tiny".


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