SportsCenter, in conjunction with espnW, continues to unveil the Top 40 Female Athletes of the Past 40 Years, as part of ESPN’s companywide initiative The Power of IX – recognizing the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Nos. 10-6 will be revealed, one per day, the week of Monday, June 11, during the 11 p.m. ET weekday edition of SportsCenter.
Athletes 10-6 (in alphabetical order):
· Bonnie Blair (speed skater) – Five-time Olympic Gold medalist
· Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics) – First female to be awarded a perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics; won five Gold, three Silver and one Bronze Olympic medals
· Chris Evert (tennis) – Holds a career won-loss record in singles matches at 1,309-146 – the best of any professional player, man or woman, in the Open era; won 18 Grand Slam singles championships, including a record seven at the French Open and six at the U.S. Open
· Steffi Graf (tennis) – Ranked No. 1 by the WTA for a record 377 total weeks – longest period for any player – male or female; only tennis player to achieve the Calendar Year Gold Slam by winning all four Grand Slam singles titles and the Olympic Gold Media in the same year
· Serena Williams (tennis) – 27 Grand Slam titles: 13 in singles, 12 in women’s doubles and two in mixed doubles; won more Major titles in singles, doubles and mix doubles that any other active player – male or female
Quotes from select vignettes:
Billie Jean King on Chris Evert: “Mentally tough. Oh my god she was so consistent. Great with the media, everything you’d want in a superstar, we got.”
Donna de Varona on Nadia Comaneci: “I was in Montreal for the Olympics. And what was so amazing about her performance was that the judges had never given a 10. So when she looked up at the scoreboard, she saw 1. Here’s this young athlete – 14, looking up — what did I do wrong? And then everyone realized it was a 10. The first perfect 10 ever scored by an athlete.”
Each vignette is introduced by ESPN’s Hannah Storm, and includes footage and/or still action photos, along with video from past or present coaches, teammates or a respected authority from within the women’s sports world.
The No. 1 female athlete of the past 40 years will be announced Friday, June 22 – one day prior to the 40th anniversary of Title IX (June 23).
espnW.com will provide an in-depth look at every athlete as chosen by an industry-wide blue-ribbon panel and based on athletic achievement. espnW.com has been the digital destination for ESPN’s The Power of IX.
Previously announced athletes: No. 40 Fu Mingxia (diving), No. 39 Julie Krone (jockey), No. 38 Mary Lou Retton (gymnastic), No. 37 Cammi Granato (ice hockey), No. 36 Kristine Lilly (soccer), No. 35 Diana Taurasi (basketball), No. 34 Flo Hyman (volleyball), No. 33 Abby Wambach (soccer), No. 32 Mary T. Meagher (swimming), No. 31 Joan Benoit (track), No. 30 Gail Devers (track), No. 29 Nancy Lieberman (basketball), No. 28 Grete Waitz (runner), No. 27 Michelle Akers (soccer), No. 26 Chamique Holdsclaw (basketball), No. 25 Dara Tores (swimming), No. 24 Nancy Lopez (golf), No. 23 Tracy Caulkins (swimming), No. 22 Marta, No. 21 Venus Williams, No. 20 Michelle Kwan, No. 19 Lindsay Vonn, No. 18 Lisa Fernandez, No. 17 Ann Meyers Drysdale, No. 16 Sheryl Swoopes, No. 15 Janet Evans, No. 14, Katarina Witt and No. 13 Cheryl Miller.
The 24 voters: Val Ackerman, Christine Brennan, Doris Burke, Jim Caple, Linda Cohn, Luke Cyphers, Anita DeFrantz, Sue Enquist, Chris Fowler, Jemele Hill, Johnette Howard, Sally Jenkins, Richard Lapchick, Nicole LaVoi, Donna Lopiano, Jackie MacMullan, Juliet Macur, Chris McKendry, Kathryn Olson, Robin Roberts, Le Anne Schreiber, Hannah Storm, Judy Sweet and Lesley Visser.