Female Athletes Who Have Brought Women’s Sports to the Next Level


  • Interest and investment in women’s sports have been on the rise in recent years.
  • Countless female athletes have helped usher women’s sports into the mainstream.
  • From Babe Didrikson Zaharias to the Williams sisters, here are 36 iconic athletes who’ve put women’s sports in the spotlight.

Women’s sports are on the rise.

Recent breakthroughs have helped usher female athletes and their organizations closer to the mainstream than they’ve ever been. According to a 2018 Nielsen report on the rise of women’s sports, 84% of general sports fans now have an interest in women’s sports.

But for decades, pioneering women in sports have worked to foster progress and inspire others hoping to accomplish history-defining athletic feats of their own.

Billie Jean King.

Billie Jean King.

AP Photo/John Minchillo



The push to bring women’s sports to the masses started with names like Wilma Rudolph and Billie Jean King but has grown to include women like Serena and Venus Williams, Megan Rapinoe, and Katie Ledecky. 

Below, we take you through the 36 most iconic female athletes that have helped put women’s sports in the spotlight.

Alexandra Licata contributed to an earlier version of this story.



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