International Women’s Day: Top 5 Female Athletes of the 2000s
Wednesday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. In honor of the occasion, we’re counting down the top-five greatest female athletes of the 2000s – an incredibly difficult task given the number of outstanding women to choose from.
Surely to engender debate, let’s get started!
5) Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey’s MMA career may have come to a disappointing end, but her overall impact on the sport cannot be overstated. UFC President Dana White was on record saying he would never allow women to fight in the organization, that is, until Rousey came along. Known for her patented armbar, Rousey was the UFC’s first female champion, defending the bantamweight title six times before her shocking defeat to Holly Holm. Women have since become a staple on UFC cards, with current and future female fighters having the trailblazing Rousey to thank.
Whenever you’re referred to as the “Female Pele,” you deserve a spot on this list. Widely regarded as the greatest female soccer player of all time, Brazil’s Marta has been named FIFA World Player of the Year six times, including five straight from 2006-2010. The 37-year-old is Brazil’s top international goal scorer, male or female, notching 115 in 174 appearances. Marta also holds the record for most goals in a World Cup (men’s or women’s) with 17. She currently plays forward for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League, continuing to delight fans with her exceptional talent.
3) Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce
While she may not be the first name one associates with Jamaican sprinting, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has cemented her legacy as one of the true legends of the track. Fraser-Pryce has dominated the 100 m dash, capturing back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals (2008 & 2012), and is the only sprinter in history to win five world titles in the event. Her latest triumph came during the 2022 World Championships at age 35, a testament to her remarkable longevity and a sign there’s still plenty left in the tank.
2) Simone Biles
The most decorated gymnast of all time, Simone Biles, made a thoroughly challenging sport look effortless, dominating her peers in the process. Biles won a record 25 World Championship medals, including 19 Gold – the most by a female or male competitor ever. She also shone brightly on gymnastics’ grandest stage, winning four Olympic gold medals. Biles’s success set the bar so high across the various disciplines in her sport that it’s hard to envision an individual leaving a more lasting footprint.
1) Serena Williams
Bursting onto the scene as a teenager, Serena Williams ushered in a type of power and athleticism never before seen in women’s tennis. She was able to parlay those gifts into 23 grand slam singles titles – one shy of Margaret Court’s record of 24. Fueled by her legendary determination and ultra-competitive nature, the 41-year-old continues to be an inspiration for women of all ages, both on and off the court – more than deserving of the No.1 spot on this.