The top female athletes in sports history
The debate over who is the best athlete is one we have been arguing about since the invention of sports tens of thousands of years ago. Today, you can find him on your favorite morning show, Hot Take TV, over the airwaves, on every social media outlet, and in every sports bar known to man…or women.
But debating who is the greatest female athlete of all time is not enough. Before this debate can even begin, you need to define what makes an athlete great. Is it their pure athletic ability or success in their sport? Is it their impact not just on the sport they competed in, but how they impacted society as a whole? Or do they stand out from the competition due to their domination, longevity, charisma, or star power? A simple “yes” can be used to answer each of these queries.
We selected the best of the best female athletes and ranked them in five different categories: athletic ability, achievement/championship, impact on the sport, impact outside of sport, and intangibles. These ratings are on a scale from 0 to 100 in steps of five. The average of these five categories will then be the athlete’s GOAT rating by which this list is ranked. With all that in mind, here are the best female athletes of all time.
Here are the top female athletes in sports history
Career: 15 seasons (1997-2011)
Achievements: Three-time world champion (athletics), stripped of five medals from the 2000 Olympics (athletics), NCAA champion (basketball)
Sports ability: 100
Impact on sport: 85
Impact outside of sport: 65
Intangible assets: 50
GOAT rating: 75
Bottom line: Yes, Jones used PEDs, which tarnishes her accomplishments, but that doesn’t take away from her God-given athletic ability. As a freshman in high school, she was the California state champion in the 100 meters and would repeat the feat three more times. She was invited to the US Olympic Trials as a 16-year-old, and let’s not forget her basketball accomplishments when she won a national title at the University of North Carolina (UNC).
She won three gold medals at the IAAF World Championships, but after that, almost all of her performances on the track were ruined due to steroid use. However, Jones had one last athletic triumph when she entered the WNBA at age 34 after not playing organized basketball for 13 years. She only played two seasons as a backup but ended her professional career on a high note.
Sports: Horse racing
Career: 22 seasons (1981-1999, 2002-04)
Accomplishments: Only female jockey to win the Triple Crown, one-time winner of the Belmont Stakes, first female jockey to win the Breeders Cup
Athletic ability: 50
Impact on sport: 90
Impact outside of sport: 60
Intangible assets: 90
GOAT rating: 75
Bottom line: While horses can be better athletes than the jockeys who ride them, it’s not easy to control a racehorse that can weigh over 1,000 pounds. It takes a lot of inner strength and Julie Krone has shown that she can compete with the best male jockeys in the world. She had 3,704 wins during her Hall of Fame career and remains the only jockey to win a Triple Crown race when she rode Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes in 1993.
She retired in 1999 to become a television horse racing analyst, but left a few years later, which proved to be a good decision as she then became the first female Breeders’ Cup winner in 2003.
Career: 21 seasons (2001-present)
Achievements: All-time leading international scorer, 14-time Canadian player of the year, two-time Olympic medalist
Athletic ability: 85
Impact on sport: 80
Impact outside of sport: 65
Intangible assets: 70
GOAT rating: 76
Bottom line: The Canadian Soccer Player of the Year award should be renamed the Christine Sinclair Award, as the forward has won it 14 times since 2000. Fourteen! Her first win came as a 17-year-old, her last came as a 35-year-old, and in between, she had an eleven-year streak in which she won every time. She scored 186 international goals, which is not only the most among female players but the most goals among all female players in international competitions.
Despite her strong ties to her native Canada, Sinclair has also been quite successful in the United States, winning two NCAA championships at the University of Portland and set to finish her career with the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.