Though many female sports have been reduced to using the selling of sex to try to promote the sports, leagues and players, that has not stopped all female athletes from achieving greatness. Here are five of the best of our generation:
5. Mia Hamm
You saw this one coming. Hamm has scored more international goals in the beautiful game than any other player, male or female. She has won Olympic gold twice and silver once, as well as a FIFA Women’s World Cup championship. She has been recognized for her illustrious career by FIFA, who named her one of just two women on the FIFA 100, a list of the 100 greatest living soccer players, among names like Pele.
4. Jennie Finch
Maybe one of the least recognizable names on this list, Finch is arguably the biggest spokesperson of women’s softball of the past 20 years. Her international career finished with a record of 36-2, over which time her ERA was a whopping 0.48. She has won Olympic gold and silver, and she was a three-time All-American in college. In 2004, she gained international fame, striking out some of baseball’s biggest sluggers like Albert Pujols and Mike Piazza in an event during All-Star Weekend. In 2010, she also pitched for the National League in MLB’s “Legends and Celebrities Softball Game.”
3. Cheryl Miller
If you are a basketball fan, it is hard not to remember Reggie Miller going into visiting arenas and having the fans chant his sister’s name, “Cheryl.” It is not without reason, however: Cheryl was a four-time All-American while at USC, and she won the Naismith College Player of the Year award three times. Upon graduating in 1986, Cheryl was drafted to many professional basketball leagues, including the USBL – a men’s league. Unfortunately, knee injuries ended her career early, forcing her to coach in both the NCAA and WNBA, and fans were unable to see her true potential.
2. Hayley Wickenheiser
Wickenheiser helped break gender barriers by becoming the first female to play full-time professional hockey in a position other than goalie when she played with HC Salamat in Finland. During that stint, she became the first female to ever score a goal in a men’s professional hockey league. On top of that, she is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time silver medalist, captaining the 2010 team in Vancouver.
1. Serena Williams
While it is hard to pick just one Williams sister, Serena has been the one with the more illustrious career to date. She has claimed four Wimbledon championships, three U.S. Opens and has been ranked the number one female tennis player in the world on five separate occasions. She has also won two Olympic gold medals and has won more career prize money than any other female athlete ever. Oh, and she is only 29 years old.