30 Athletes Who Dominate Their Sport
Women around the world are doing incredible things in sports. From the tennis court to the UFC octagon, these 30 female athletes are absolutely dominating the competition. They’re bringing blazing speed, impressive power, muscular strength, and all-around athleticism to get them to the top.
Along with their winning talent, these women are sure to inspire future generations of female athletes. Check out the fiery females who top this list for some serious gym goals or just admire these talented athletes at the top of their game.
1. Miesha Tate, MMA
Mixed martial artist Miesha Tate is one of the hottest female athletes in the UFC. Go ahead and take that both literally and figuratively. Much more than just a pretty face, Tate is one of the meanest submission artists in the sport.
Like most fighters, Tate has been handed a few Ls in her time. But one of those losses (against Ronda Rousey in 2012) was still such a good fight that UFC president Dana White credited it as a big reason for creating the women’s division was even created. That’s just plain impressive.
2. Caroline Wozniacki, Tennis
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark stands among the top names in women’s tennis. In 2010, she joined the exclusive club of female athletes who’ve reached the No. 1 rank in the world. Ever since then, Wozniacki has remained one of the elite players in the game.
She continues to climb the ranks of career earnings with a purse that appears to be growing at an exponential rate. Wozniacki crossed the $30 million threshold to become the fourth highest earner of all time.
3. Lolo Jones, Track / Bobsled
Why crush competition in just one sport when you have the talent to destroy opponents in multiple sports? Lolo Jones did just that by competing as a hurdler and bobsledder.
She didn’t just participate in these two polar opposite fields, Jones took her talents to the top of both.
Jones competed in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics in the hurdles and the 2014 Winter Olympics for bobsled. By doing so, Jones joined a select few female athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Games.
4. Alex Morgan, Soccer
For over two decades, the United States women’s national team has flaunted one of the most talented rosters in the world. Alex Morgan is one of the key reasons why the women’s soccer national team has maintained such a high level of success.
While Morgan has played for five professional teams, she has also represented the women’s national team since 2010. In that time, she has helped Team USA take home an Olympic gold (2012) and a World Cup gold (2015) and silver (2011).
Morgan was the first woman featured on the cover of the wildly popular FIFA video game series in 2015.
5. Ronda Rousey, MMA
Ronda Rousey’s overwhelming success in MMA – particularly her time in the UFC – has been a major influence in the explosion of popularity for women’s MMA. Remaining undefeated until her final two fights to finish with a 12-2 record in December 2016,
Rousey may have recently retired, but she remains one of the most recognizable faces (male or female) in MMA. She has since signed with the WWE. After crushing it in the octagon, “Rowdy Ronda” will certainly be throwing down in the ring.
6. Hilary Knight, Hockey
Hilary Knight has been helping set the tone for women’s hockey for years now. Since her collegiate days with the NCAA Champion Wisconsin Badgers, Knight has been ripping shots to the back of the net with ease.
Knight has medaled in the IIHF World Women’s Championships nine times (7 of them gold). She has also led Team USA to three straight Olympic finals, scoring two silvers (2010, 2014) and one gold (2018) in a nail-biting shootout.
7. Lexi Thompson, Golf
How good at golf is Lexi Thompson? Considering she qualified for her first U.S. Women’s Open at age 12, “very good” sounds like a safe bet.
Thompson’s talent is mind-boggling. By age 15 – when most of us are dealing with the pressure of high school homework – Thompson had officially turned pro.
Turning pro at age 15 is crazy, but setting an LPGA record at age 16 is insane. That’s just what Lexi Thompson did though, as the youngest player to win a tournament at the Navistar LPGA Classic. At age 19, Thompson claimed her first major title, winning the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Thompson has already accomplished so much, yet still has years ahead to pile on the awards. Read on for another new young star on the LPGA Tour who might give Thompson a run for her money.
8. Candace Parker, Basketball
Countless NBA legends have donned a Los Angeles Lakers jersey, but in the WNBA the name that runs LA is Candace Parker. Since 2008, Parker has made the Sparks a powerhouse in the league.
One championship, two MVP selections and four All-Star selections apparently weren’t enough to quench Parker’s thirst for competition, though. She also took her talents to Russia. From 2011-15, Parker claimed the title of the Russian National League champion.
9. Danica Patrick, Racing
Danica Patrick recently wrapped up her professional racing career in February 2018 at the Daytona 500. While Patrick isn’t the first woman to race NASCAR, her influence on the sport has been monumental. Her achievements on the track were also plenty notable.
She first joined NASCAR as a part-time driver in 2010. Then, Patrick became the first female full-time driver of the Sprint Cup series in 2013. Though she never secured a first-place finish in her career, Patrick leads all women in the sport with three Top 10 finishes.
10. Allison Stokke, Pole Vault
Most of the female athletes on this list have made a living stomping their competition in the dust. But pole vaulter Allison Stokke dominates all the rest in the modeling department. The snap of one perfectly timed photo sprang the beautiful athlete into the spotlight.
Before she competed in the NCAA for the California Golden Bears, a photographer snapped the SoCal native’s picture at a local competition. The photo quickly began circulating the internet, thrusting the young athlete into stardom.
Stokke’s popularity exploded as photographers followed her through her collegiate career at UC Berkeley. Since graduating, Stokke has enjoyed success as a professional pole vaulter and sponsored fitness model for Nike and Athleta.
11. Mikaela Shiffrin, Skiing
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin is already firmly among the sport’s top female athletes, and she’s barely even close to her prime. At the young age of 22, Shiffrin made her second trip to the Winter Olympics, competing in the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
In 2014, Shiffrin claimed Olympic gold in the women’s slalom race. She showed growth in 2018, winning giant slalom and taking silver in the combined event.
Adding to her medal collection, Shiffrin has three golds and one silver from the World Championships. She’ll need a guest house just for her medals by the time she’s done skiing for the U.S. Team.
12. Katie Ledecky, Swimming
Michael Phelps, move over. Katie Ledecky is looking to take the throne as Poseidon of the Pool. The young swimmer has already asserted herself as one of, if not the greatest female swimmer of all time.
Lately, Ledecky has lapped up every medal in her sight (unless that medal happens to be bronze). Between the Olympics, World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships, Ledecky has collected 24 golds and two silvers.
Oh, and she’s accomplished all this before even turning 21.
13. Sloane Stephens, Tennis
Sloane Stephens is on a mission as she steadily climbs to prominence in women’s tennis. The Florida native has been playing professionally since 2010 and has plenty of years of success ahead of her.
Stephens yet to crack the Top 10 in world rankings. She floats just outside the bubble though, so far topping out at No. 11 overall. In 2017, Stephens won her first career Major, the US Open, at age 23.
14. Chloe Kim, Snowboarding
Before she even turned 18, Chloe Kim was already a legend in the snowboarding community. The Southern California native was born to shred. Kim has been tearing up the competition since her first Winter X Games appearance in 2014.
She first medaled at the Winter X Games in 2014, earning silver in the SuperPipe event. Silver is pretty remarkable – and she was only 13 at the time! Kim has since taken four more golds and one bronze in the competition.
Recently, Kim took home a gold on the halfpipe in her first-ever Winter Olympics in 2018.
15. Brittney Griner, Basketball
From the moment Brittney Griner first picked up a basketball, she has been an unstoppable force on the hardwood.
In 2009, Griner was named the No. 1 high school player in the nation. The 6’9″ center continues to live up to that initial hype every day.
Griner’s time at Baylor was spectacular; she was named Player of the Year twice and won an NCAA Championship (2012). She was selected first overall by the Phoenix Mercury in the 2013 WNBA draft. Since then, Griner has continued bringing home the hardware, winning several accolades plus her first WNBA championship in 2014.
16. Cris Cyborg, MMA
Cristiane Justino Venancio is a name most people are unfamiliar with. However, just hearing Cris Cyborg – her MMA ring name – is enough to strike fear into anyone’s heart.
After losing her first professional fight as a mixed martial artist, Cyborg has been on a mission.
Cyborg has racked up 19 straight wins on her way to becoming one of the most well-known, feared MMA fighters. She has been a nightmare in every featherweight division she’s fought in. Certainly among the strongest female athletes around, Cyborg became champion in Invicta FC, Strikeforce and UFC.
17. Marta Vieira Da Silva, Soccer
Brazil must be putting something in the water, because soccer star Marta Vieira da Silva is a once-in-a-generation talent. Even Pele, Brazil’s transcendent talent, refers to Marta as “Pele with skirts.” For almost two decades, Marta has maintained a nearly unfathomable level of excellence.
The 5x FIFA World Player of the Year has won two gold medals in the Pan American Games and two Olympic silvers. Incredibly, Marta has nearly averaged one goal per game in well over 100 caps for the Brazil national team.
18. Maya Moore, Basketball
Maya Moore is such a transcendent talent in women’s basketball, she could forget to show up to a game and still put up the best stats on either team. After her college days at UConn, Moore was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 WNBA draft. She has razed a path of destruction along the way.
In college, Moore took home two National Player of the Year awards and two National Championships. Since joining the Minnesota Lynx in 2011, Moore again earned MVP status (2014) and has already won four championships.
Sheesh, save some fun for the rest of the world.
19. Simona Halep, Tennis
Professional tennis player Simona Halep needs no validation. Halep competes against the world’s toughest talent in the WTA and has achieved the status of No. 1 world ranking.
Halep first achieved her No. 1 world ranking in 2017, making her the seventh person to do so without winning a Grand Slam. The Romanian star had an impressive breakthrough in 2013, winning her first six WTA titles in the same calendar year.
20. Paige VanZant, MMA
It should be obvious that female athletes who are good enough to fight in the UFC should never been taken lightly. Still, don’t mistake Paige VanZant’s petite size and stunning beauty for weakness. At age 23, she’s well on her way to leaving her mark on the sport.
Sure, VanZant has already taken a few losses – but that actually sheds light on how impressive her blossoming MMA career really is. VanZant spent her first 10 professional fights in the strawweight division and made her flyweight debut in January 2018.
The young star has 11 professional fights and a second weight class under her belt before even turning 24. VanZant has plenty of fight left in her.
21. Missy Franklin, Swimming
The United States is going to crush the world of competitive swimming for the next decade and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. If Katie Ledecky isn’t enough to keep her competition up at night, Missy Franklin is coming in just as hot.
In the medal race, the two are neck and neck. Two years older than Ledecky, Franklin has five golds and one bronze to Ledecky’s five golds and one silver.
Franklin has earned 18 total World Championships medals (11 gold). She also holds the world record in the 200-meter backstroke (long course) amongst other records.
22. Serena Williams, Tennis
Can we just all agree that it feels like Serena Williams has dominated every competition since she stepped onto the tennis court?
If and when the day comes that Serena puts down her racket for good, the Women’s Tennis Association needs to honor the GOAT and retire the No. 1 rank permanently.
Forget all of the monstrous endorsements Serena’s earned over the years, she’s accrued roughly $85 million in prize money alone. That may seem like an absurd amount at first, but consider that she’s approaching 1,000 wins in professional singles and doubles matches.
23. Diana Taurasi, Basketball
Diana Taurasi has been ballin’ outrageous for so long, it feels like she’s been in the game since it began. Taurasi is one of the key figures responsible for the unrivaled success of the UConn women’s basketball program. She helped lead the Huskies to three straight National Championships (2002-04).
The championships didn’t end there for Diana Taurasi. Since the Phoenix Mercury selected her with the No. 1 overall pick in 2004, she has won three WNBA championships.
Apparently, being unstoppable in one country gets old after a while so Taurasi headed to the Russian National League. There, she has won seven championships, three Russian Cups and six Euroleague championships. Oh yeah, she also made a quick pit stop in Turkey to win the Turkish National League… because, you know, why not?
24. Carli Lloyd, Soccer
Carli Lloyd has been the lifeblood of the U.S. Women’s national soccer team for longer than many athletes play at any level. The quick-footed midfielder’s durability is staggering. Lloyd has played at the professional level since 1999.
Carli Lloyd has had more than her fair share of iconic moments. She has helped lead the USWNT to bronze, silver, and gold medals in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Better yet, Lloyd scored two Olympic golds – which she literally scored the winning goal for in both contests.
25. Holly Holm, MMA
It has been an incredible journey for mixed martial artist Holly Holm. She initially entered the world of combat sports as a kickboxer. Holm then turned her successful amateur career into a professional boxing career. She was borderline unstoppable in the ring, boxing her way to a 33-2-3 record.
Holm kept the haymakers flying when she stepped into the octagon. After winning her first nine MMA bouts, she got her big shot. In 2015, Holm got her chance to claim the UFC Bantamweight Championship against Ronda Rousey.
The title fight garnered an astounding 1.1 million pay-per-view purchases. Holm knocked out Rousey to win what’s considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
26. Simone Biles, Gymnastics
If we need to point the finger at someone for depleting Earth’s precious metal resources, American gymnast Simone Biles may be to blame.
The 4’8″ Biles might literally be worth her weight in gold – yet her medal count has likely outweighed her for years.
Her honors include 17 National Championships (11 gold), two Pacific Rim Championships (2 gold), 14 World Championships (10 gold) and five Olympic medals (4 gold). With all this before turning 21, Biles’ talent is in another universe.
27. Sung Hyun Park, Golf
South Korea’s Sung Hyun Park is more than just a new face on the LPGA tour; she’s a new star. 2017 was Park’s first year as a professional golfer in the LPGA. In her first year alone, she won two tournaments.
It would be a major disservice to sum up Park’s accomplishments in that first year with just those two tournament wins, though. Her first win was a Major – the U.S. Women’s Open. The victory helped Park earn both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year honors.
28. Brianna Decker, Hockey
A true pioneer of women’s hockey, Brianna Decker should have plenty of years ahead to add to her already illustrious career.
In college, the young forward was National Player of the Year in 2012 with the Wisconsin Badgers. From there, she went on to pioneering the still-young National Women’s Hockey league.
As a member of the United States women’s national team, Decker’s goal scoring abilities have proven clutch time and again. Since 2011, she has helped lead the USA to five golds and one silver in the World Championships. Decker has also medaled twice in the Olympics, one silver (2014) and one gold (2018).
29. Hope Solo, Soccer
Hope Solo may have hung up her goalie gloves in 2016, but her contribution to women’s soccer was overwhelming. Solo was a goalkeeper at the professional level from 2003-16. Soccer fans will remember her best though for her dazzling performances on the world’s stage.
Her autobiography, “Solo: A Memoir of Hope,” was a best-seller. Makes sense, considering it was released just after Solo’s lock down job at keeper helped the USWNT win a second straight Olympic gold. Even better, Solo helped her team win bronze (2007), silver (2011) and gold (2015) in the coveted World Cup.
30. Venus Williams, Tennis
Talk about a power family of strong female athletes. Serena Williams may be among the greatest of all time, but don’t think sister Venus Williams is living in her shadow. Venus has also spent time at No. 1 and essentially lives in the top 10 female tennis players.
In fact, Venus has done more than simply hold her own. She has won the second most singles titles, behind only her sister. Add in all of her doubles titles and Venus’ accolades are simply staggering.