35 Women Who Have Left Their Mark on the Sports World

Bild: Imago / PanoramiC

Every year, the boundaries of what women can do in the world is stretched. Elite women athletes compete at levels unimaginable just a few years ago, due to not only superior genetics but also modern advances in training, nutrition, among other factors.

Nowadays, the athletes are also famous persons, because a lot of spectators follow the sports events like the Olympic Games and similar competitions. There are even a few names that everyone knows whether they have a huge interest in sports or not.

Let’s look at the top 35 of the most celebrated and decorated women athletes of today.

35. Simone Biles

Bild: Imago / PanoramiC

Long known as one of the most talented gymnasts on the world’s stage, Biles continues to amaze. A two-time Olympian earning 7 medals. In 10 short years, Simone has also won 25 World Championship medals, including 19 gold at this highest competition outside of the Olympics.

Outside of her competitions, she has found time to pen a popular autobiography entitled Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance. In addition, Biles also competed on the popular television show, Dancing with the Stars. Outside of gymnastics, Simone is in a relationship with pro football player Johnathon Owens.

34. Paige Spiranac

Bild: Imago / UPI Photo

Spiranac burst onto the women’s pro golf scene, winning an incredible 5 major tournaments in her first 6 years. In 2018, new golfer Paige was pitted against top-ranked Brittany Fan, but the 35-hole title golf match ended up with Spiranac winning, cementing Paige in the record books as one of the baddest female athletes in modern sports.

Spiranac is a monthly collaborator in Golf Magazine and also maintains a big presence in the world of social media, too, with over 3 million followers. A stunning beauty that is also a crazy talented athlete, this superstar is on par for more hole in one’s in her future.

33. Ivona Dadic’

Bild: Imago / Xinhua

A two-time Olympian, runner Dadic’ won her first competition at 9. After running, jumping, and throwing well enough to earn a bronze at Tallin’s European U23 Championships in 2015 in the heptathlon, Ivona was just getting warmed up. In 2012 she competed in her first Olympic Games.

2016 brought Ivona to the Rio Olympics. Then the next year, Dadic’ competed in the pentathlon and dominated the 2017 European Indoor Championships. Ivona’s story is not all winning, however, as she tragically lost her brother to a car wreck in 2008. Dadic’ holds his memory close every day as she has his name and a cross tattoo emblazoned on her hand.

32. Sally Fitzgibbons

Bild: Imago / AAP

Surfing phenom Fitzgibbons started off as a phenom on dry land as a national champ runner. But soon her love of the water took over, and she began her rise to the top of the surfing world in 2004. First, she won gold in Billabong’s Pro Brazil ASP Women’s World Tour, then, she won the gold again at Fiji’s Pro ASP surf competition.

As Fitzgibbons relentlessly trained and traveled the world surfing, she won Rio’s Oi Rio Pro ASP World title later that same year and ultimately became ranked #1 women’s surfer in the world. In this sense, she has marked sports history with her performance.

31. Antonija Sandric’

Bild: Imago / Pixsell

This Croatian stunner was named by Bleacher Report! as the most beautiful female competitor of the 2012 Summer Olympics but chooses not to model despite many offers. However, Sandric’ has kept her eyes on the court since she picked up a basketball and joined professional competition in 2005 and married fellow pro basketball player Marko Sandric’.

This basketball beauty’s hard work continued to pay off in 2009 when she played again on Croatia’s National team that won a bronze medal at the Mediterranean Games. Antonija also played in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The next person we are presenting is a martial arts athlete.

30. Paige VanZandt

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

As a model for both Nike and Columbia Sportswear, VanZandt’s fans have been able to see her as a guest on the cooking show Chopped, as well as Dancing with the Stars. Her 2018 book, Rise: Surviving the Fight of my Life, showcases how her life led to being an MMA fighter.

Competing in Ju-jitsu style fighting in the MMA, VanZandt became a one-time champion of UFC’s Fight of the Night and a one-time champion of UFC’s Performance of the Night. Married to fellow fighter, Austin “The Gentleman” Vanderford, Paige continues to be part of the MMA fighting world today.

29. Allison Stokke

Bild: Imago / Icon SMI

Beginning her national stage competitions in 2004, Allison set a national record in vault that year. Later that same year, she broke the national high school pole vault record, as well. Stokke later won the indoor CIF California State meet.

Allison has also been a fit model since 2015 and is now an undeniable inspiration to female athletes around the world. As a testament to hard work and commitment to a sport, Stokke proves that some of the baddest female athletes in modern sports can be at the top of their game and look amazing while they clear the bar.

28. Sierra Blair-Coyle

Bild: Imago / ZUMA Wire

As the current Pan American Bouldering Champion, Sierra rises above all the other rock-climbing athletes. Starting in 2008, Blair-Coyle quickly scrambled up to join the ranks of the best competitors, named a 2010 World Cup competitor through 2018.

Sierra accumulated even more honors at that same time, too, winning 1st place in the 2018 Mesa Rim Pro AM, and two golds at two other top competitions. Blair-Coyle also has a degree in marketing from Arizona State University. As an acknowledged top female athlete that is also smart and gorgeous, Sierra has also been recognized by AskMen’s Top 99 Outstanding Women.

27. Lindsay Vonn

Bild: Imago / Bildbyran

As an Alpine-ski racer, Lindsay competed from 2000 to 2019. Winning her first Olympic medals in 2010 at Vancouver, Vonn snagging another in 2018 at Pyeongchang.

Outside of skiing, Lindsay was married for five years to fellow downhill skier Thomas Vonn who was also on the US Olympic Ski Team. In later years, she has been romantically linked to pro golfer Tiger Woods, NFL assistant coach Kenan Smith, as well as P.K. Subman, a pro hockey player. This ski whizz who has more than earned her place in history as a highly honored athlete. For sure, everyone has heard her name once.

26. Aly Raisman

Bild: Imago / ZUMA Wire

This two-time Olympic gymnast has racked up six Olympic medals for a total of 33 illustrious 11 years. Raisman is a fierce competitor as an artistic gymnast and is also a recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Aly shared her personal mental mindset in her memoir, Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything.

Celebrated in the Sports Illustrated’s famous swimsuit issue, Aly’s fitness and great looks make her a fan favorite. Raisman kept busy with cameos in a Charlie’s Angels movie and in Maroon 5 and Cardi B’s video for Girls Like You, and on television’s Dancing with the Stars (2013).

25. Maria Sharapova

Bild: Imago / AAP

This sweet tennis star charmed the world with a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. But in 2004, she volleyed her way to #1 at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, going on to win the US Open. Sharipova claimed the top title at the French Open in her signature Grand Slam Singles in both 2012 and 2014.

Off the court, Sharapova has penned an autobiography as well as created her own namesake charitable foundation. Her latest creation is the Sugarpova line of candies. Maria’s sweet life is happier than ever these days with her engagement to beau Brit Alexander Gilkes.

24. Whitney Miller

Bild: lassedesignen / Shutterstock.com

Tough, strong, and beautiful, Miller’s boxing career is hard to beat. After winning Miss United States in 2012, Miller also became a professional Wakesurfer as well as a professional Jiu-Jitsu Brazilian MMA fighter. Reporting for Glory Kickboxing, this tough beauty keeps up with that world, too. Anyway, she has a very impressive sports career.

Engaged to Onnit founder Aubrey Marcus, Miller keeps busy as a fitness model in addition to being a relationship coach as well as a mindset coach and a 1-on-1 couple’s coach. Whitney has also been the host of a popular podcast called “True Sex and Wild Love.”

23. Michelle Jenneke

Bild: Imago / GEPA pictures

Famously known for her pre-run dance ritual caught on camera at the 2012 Barcelona Jr. World track competition, Jenneke shot to fame for her speed and looks. Featured in Sports Illustrated’s 2013 swimsuit edition, Jenneke’s skill as the dancing hurdler became so popular that she appeared on the Tonight Show.

Not just a great athlete, Jenneke earned a degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from Sydney University. Running in the Rio Olympics, Jenneke still competes today, as well as models. She has a huge social media following to this day, thanks to her initial viral video. Surely you have heard of her, or seen her on TV.

22. Alex Morgan

Bild: Imago / Pro Shots

This soccer superstar shot to stardom in 2012 winning the gold medal with the US women’s Olympic team. Named US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year the same year and being a finalist for FIFA’s World Player of the year reinforced Morgan’s icon status in the world of sports.

This stunning striker on the field also does great things outside the game. Alex has co-written a four-book series called The Kicks and has been guest on numerous television shows, movies, and music videos. Morgan spends her free time with husband Servando Carrasco, a fellow soccer star. Have a look at the next one!

21. Anna Kournikova

Bild: Imago / ITAR-TASS

Ranked #1 in the world multiple times as a doubles player, this dazzling tennis player is tough on the court. But since retiring in 2003, she spends her free time with love Julio Iglesias as well as being a charitable Global Ambassador and a fitness trainer for The Biggest Loser television series.

Kournikova was almost impossible to beat at the time, winning both the Grand Slam and the WTA two times each, earning her a #8 in the world. Anna was a formidable foe on the court, lobbing her way into the world’s hearts with her aggressive play and spectacular looks.

20. Serena Williams

Bild: Imago / Starface

Quadruple Olympic gold medalist Williams is indisputably one of the top tennis players in the world. Winner of 39 Grand Slam titles, Serena has dominated just about every court she has played on. A five-time WTA champion, Williams holds records few players will ever touch.

Off the courts, Serena stays busy as part-owner of an NFL team and as CSO of luxury brand Aston Martin, alongside husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Her boisterous personality has landed Williams on several television shows and movies, as well. Known for her impressive physical strength, this tennis champ’s fame is irrefutable. She has a very long and impressive career.

19. Jenny Finch

Bild: Imago / Icon SMI

As US Softball team pitcher, Finch helped lead her team to Olympic victories to write their names in the history books forever. Earning gold in the 2004 Athens Games and a silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jenny’s pitching set the standard in the world of softball.

Keeping her love-life on the diamond, Finch married former MLB pitcher Casey Daigle and then used her softball expertise as an ESPN commentator for National Pro Fastpitch and college softball games. Future softball players can read up on how Jenny made it to the big leagues in the book she authored about the game.

18. Taylor Pischke

Bild: Imago / Beautiful Sports

Daughter to a mother and a father who are both volleyball Olympic royalty in Canada, Pischke’s rise to the top of the volleyball world was inevitable. This gorgeous and talented beach volleyball player has won bronze twice at two under 23 World Championships, as well as garnering seven more medals on the beach volleyball circuit, the NORCECA.

Smart and athletic, Dove recognized Taylor’s influence and tapped her as a spokesperson for their “My Beauty My Say” campaign. Pischke has also attended the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Science department. Impressive, that she managed to keep up with her studies and sports career.

17. Caroline Wozniaki

Bild: Imago / UPI Photo

With a rockstar 15-year tennis career, Wozniaki earned more than a handful of top titles. From the singles titles at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, to over 30 titles at the WTA’s, Caroline’s singles and doubles games were some of the very best.

Married to former NBA player David Lee, Wozniaki announced she was expecting her first child in February 2021. Plagued with rheumatoid arthritis, this beauty retired from tennis, but is still one of the baddest female athletes of modern sports.

Keep reading, as we have many more great female athletes to present in the next slides. Next up is a professional golfer.

16. Cheyenne Woods

Bild: Imago / ZUMA Press

Having a famous last name will only get you so far in the sports world, but since Woods is so talented and gorgeous, sharing a moniker with her uncle Tiger has been a great indicator of her talent to the golf world. Cheyenne has proven her golf skills with impressive wins of two top tourneys, the SunCoast Ladies LPGA and the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters.

Breaking barriers as well as winning, Woods has been one of only six other black professional women golfers. With Cheyenne’s contributions to the record books, she is a leader in women’s golf on and off the greens.

15. Hillary Knight

Bild: B Calkins / Shutterstock.com

Heating up the ice hockey world is Hillary Knight, clad in #21 in honor of former American player, Cammi Granato. But Knight’s other important numbers are much lower since 1st and 2nd are more her game-winning style. With one Olympic gold and two Olympic silvers along with 10 more World Champ medals, Knight is usually playing forward for the top team.

Off the ice, Hillary enjoys snow skiing, and her cousin Chip Knight is even a three-time Olympic medalist in alpine skiing. Sports seem to be a family talent! This talented athlete has gracefully represented the US in and out of the rink.

14. Hope Solo

Bild: Imago / ZUMA Wire

The US Women’s National team relied on the expert goaltending hands of Solo for 10 years. Hope defended the women’s team to two gold Olympic medals in 2008 and 2012. Solo went on to play in and win the World Cup Championship in 2015, further solidifying her place as one of the baddest female athletes in modern sports.

Off the field, Hope represents the Women’s Sports Foundation. Now an author of Solo: A Memoir of Hope, she is married to athlete Jeremy Stevens, former football player. Sports seem to be important to this family too. Anyway, Hope Solo has left an important legacy on and off the field.

13. Danica Patrick

Bild: Imago / UPI Photo

Racing into hearts around the world, NASCAR and Indy car driver Patrick was named Rookie of the Year in both the Indy Car Series and the Indianapolis 500 back in 2005. Becoming the most successful woman to race in any open-wheel competition, Danica ended up in pole position a total of five times in the different racing events.

Off the racetrack, Patrick has hosted several shows on Spike TV, guested on numerous television shows and music videos, and has even been a movie set driving instructor. Danica’s wine label, Somnium, keeps her busy as well. Next athlete in this list is Rhonda Rousey.

12. Rhonda Rousey

Bild: Imago / UPI Photo

Drop-dead gorgeous Rousey, a Judo and MMA-wrestling star, has made a life out of being tough but beautiful. A winner in the ring, she has won numerous world matches, including at the Pan American Championship, the Pan American Games, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Rousey’s striking looks and fighting skills helped to secure her roles in multiple action movies and television shows. Rhonda’s autobiography, written in 2015, details how her fighting life and personal life intersect. Rousey is married to fellow UFC fighter Travis Browne. This is a good way for athletes to make their skills useful also in other work environments.

11. Venus Williams

Bild: Imago / NurPhoto

For sure, you know this name. Tennis legend Venus Williams’ acumen on and off the court is undeniable. Winning four gold and one silver medal over the span of four Olympic Games is an outstanding feat for any athlete. Venus’s 49 WTA single’s titles, 22 WTA double’s titles, and 2 WTA mixed doubles titles prove how versatile and strong of an athlete she really is.

But Williams also co-owns an NFL team while she runs her own interior design firm, too. Romantically linked to pro athletes and other high-profile men over the years, she can also add author to her impressive resume.

10. Allyson Felix

Bild: Imago / AFLOSPORT

Surely you have already seen this athlete, as she has had a great career and has left an important legacy for women.

Sprinting onto the track scene in 2001, Felix has ultimately earned 9 Olympic Games medals during her years on the track. Spanning three Olympics, Allyson became world champion in the 200- and 400-meter sprints four different times over her career.

An outspoken advocate for Black women, she has championed their successes and problems relating to pregnancy and the related Black maternal mortality rate. Married to fellow US team sprinter and hurdler, Kenneth Ferguson, Felix is the epitome of an elite female athlete that should be celebrated.

9. Sarah Backman

Bild: Sanit Fuangnakhon / Shutterstock.com

With strength and beauty, arm wrestler Backman became one of the most decorated female competitors in the world. This blond beauty from Sweden became the World Arm Wrestling Champ eight times as well as earning that same title in Europe and Sweden for a combined 19 more titles.

Formerly married to fellow American pro wrestler Bo Dallas, Sarah now puts her efforts into work outside the ring. As a professional realtor, the gorgeous Backman likely still can take down just about any unsuspecting foe at a friendly match of arm wrestling. In the next slide, you will get to know more about another martial arts athlete.

8. Michelle Waterson

Bild: Imago / ZUMA Wire

In 2021, Waterson was ranked #8 in the UFC as a fighter in the strawweight class. Starting in 2007, Michelle has since gone on to claim the Atomweight of the Year title two times, in 2013 and 2014. Waterson is a multi-talented fighter, competing in MMA Karate, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu styles. She is an impressive athlete for being a master at so many techniques of martial arts.

This startlingly beautiful yet lithe fighter is, not surprisingly, also a model outside of the competition rings. Waterson married Joshua Gomez, a former amateur boxing champion in the US Armed Forces.

7. Skylar Diggins-Smith

Bild: Imago / MediaPunch

A star on and off the basketball court, Smith has played point guard on the national stage since 2013. A four-time WNBA All-Star designee between 2014 and 2018, Smith also won a gold medal at the 2012 World Championships. Her skills on the court are hard to match.

Skyler married Daniel Smith, her long-time boyfriend. Not just an athlete, this statuesque stunner also earned her college degree from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The couple had their first child in the year 2019.

In the follwing, we are presenting more athletes that you might know… Ever heard of Eugénie Bouchard? She is next on the list.

6. Eugenie Bouchard

Bild: Imago / Shutterstock

This tennis queen burst onto the national scene in 2011, and just the next year Bouchard earned the title of the 2012 Wimbledon Girls Champion. As the first Canadian tennis player to reach the finals of the Grand Slam tournament and also rank in the top 5 in women’s singles, Bouchard captured the hearts of tennis lovers world-wide.

But Eugenie’s influence off the tennis court has been just as impressive. Bouchard was named the as the very top athlete on SportsPro’s list of the World’s Most Marketable Athletes. In her personal life, she is also married to NFL quarterback Mason Rudolph.

5. Gabby Douglas

Bild: Imago / APress

For eight years, Douglas dominated the gymnastics world. As the first US gymnast to earn gold in individual all-around and as a team in the Olympics, Gabby’s prowess in the gym was unheard-of. Amassing 10 Olympic medals over her career, Douglas also took the honor of being the first African American gymnast to win the all-around gold.

Author of two books and veteran of a reality series based on her life, Douglas’s life will continue to be a role-model for young girls as a Barbie gymnast doll was made in her likeness in 2016. Have you read the books yet?

4. Abby Wambach

Bild: Imago / Future Image

This decorated soccer star is a 6-time Athlete of the Year winner for the US Soccer Federation as well as earning the FIFA Player of the Year once as well. Playing forward, Wambach won the World Cup in 2015.

Honored with the ESPY’s Icon Award in 2016, Abby is also known for her philanthropic contributions to juvenile diabetes and epilepsy research. Married to Glennon Doyle, Wambach has authored three books about sports.

It is always impressive when athletes get involved in charity organization or try to make the public aware of certain causes. Indeed, they have such a wide audience, that it can really make a difference.

3. Michelle Wie

Bild: Imago / AFLOSPORT

Named the Laureus Newcomer of the Year in 2004, Wie shocked the golf world when she qualified for the USGA Amateur Championships at the age of 10, the youngest to ever qualify. Wie eventually went on to win the Rolex Annika Major in 2015.

This beautiful golfer is also married to Jonnie West, the Director of Basketball Operations for the Golden State Warriors. Michelle Wie won her first tournaments as she was only aged 11. She was a fan of Tiger Woods, this is what motivated her to start in this sport, and later to follow his footsteps into a golfing career.

2. Sydney Leroux

Bild: Imago / Sports Press Photo

This soccer player’s parents were both professional athletes, leading Leroux to first pursue baseball. Her mother’s time on the Canadian softball national team and her father’s pro baseball profession seemed like inevitable influences. But when Sydney switched to soccer as a speedy forward, she ultimately won a gold in London’s Olympics. Later, Leroux also captured the World Cup and Algarve Cup titles as well.

Sydney is married to fellow pro soccer player, the MLS’s Dom Dwyer. She has now two children and is combining her sports career and her mother’s life. This is always a challenge, especially for female athletes.

1. Yuliya Levchenko

Bild: Imago / ITAR-TASS

At the age of only 19, Levchenko became the youngest ever high jump world champion in 2017. Yuliya has gone on to take the top honors at many world competitions in this difficult field event, like the European U23 Championships in Bydgoszcz.

Levchenko was also named the Rising Star of the Year by the European Athletics association in 2017, recognizing the talented and beautiful high jumper as one of the baddest female athletes of modern sports.

In 2021, she took part into the Olympic Games. However, her performances in this season were not as good as in the 2019 season, as she took part into the World Championships in Doha.