Of the ladies on our list of the ten most famous women athletes, most have found fame based on athletic greatness, a few purely on sex appeal, and many on both. No matter how they got there, one thing is certain: They have each had a major impact on their respective sports.
- Serena Williams. The younger of the tennis-playing Williams sisters, Serena has been the slightly more successful of the two and ranks among the greatest players of all time. She also earns plenty of attention with her muscular build, provocative outfits, and bikini photo shoots.
- Venus Williams. Little sister gets more attention, but Venus Williams was the first great black tennis player since Althea Gibson was winning at Wimbledon back in the ‘50s. With seven Grand Slam singles titles plus a string of doubles championships with her sister.
- Kristy Yamaguchi. Want to be on a list of the most famous female athletes of all time? Become America’s Sweetheart by winning an Olympic gold medal for figure skating and then take first place in “Dancing with the Stars.” That’s what Yamaguchi did, taking home the gold at ’92 Albertville and winning the big, ugly disco ball on DWTS in ’08.
- Anna Kournikova. Her fame comes more from her fabulous looks than it does from her less than fabulous play on the tennis court. Kournikova never won a major tournament, but nobody really cares because her smoking hot body and millions of sexy Internet images has brought the sport of tennis constant attention.
- Maria Sharapova. She wins tennis tournaments, she models, does TV commercials, and she’s beautiful—not a bad combination if you want fame and fortune. Put that all together and you have Sharapova—one of the ten most famous women athletes in the world.
- Danica Patrick. If you consider driving in circles a sport, Patrick qualifies as one of the tenmost famous women athletes in the world. Despite moderate success on the Indy circuit and thus far nary a win as a NASCAR driver, her good looks, willingness to do sexy photo shoots, and sometimes fiery personality bring Patrick an inordinate amount of attention every time she races.
- Mia Hamm. A mainstay on numerous US National teams, she was the first famous female soccer star in America. Being married to baseball star Nomar Garciaparra hasn’t hurt Hamm’s chances of being among the most famous females in all of sports either.
- Jennie Finch. Most people would be hard pressed to name any other female softball player than Finch. But great success as a lights-out pitcher on US National Teams combined with a killer body and natural beauty makes Finch one of the ten most famous women athletes in the world.
- Michelle Wie. She burst onto the golf scene as a spectacular teen amateur and later received much attention while playing poorly in a men’s PGA tournament. Despite struggling at the professional level, Wie is the first name most people think of in ladies golf today.
- Lindsey Vonn. Others may have been as successful at the 2010 Winter Olympics as this gold-medal winning downhill skier, but it was Vonn who got all the attention. Tall, pretty, and wonderfully displayed in the 2010 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, she quickly became one of the world’s tenmost famous women athletes.
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
15 Shirts Women Simply Can’t Resist—and Why
From Ts to button-downs and beyond, these must-haves will get her everlovin’ attention.
As Boogie Nights Turns 20, Here’s What You Didn’t Kno...
Fun facts about Paul Thomas Anderson, Dirk Diggler, Rollergirl and more.
19 Men’s Grooming Gaffes That Totally Turn Women Off
And what to do about them.