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. 20-16 will be revealed, one per day, the week of Monday, May 28, during the 10 a.m. ET weekday edition of SportsCenter.
Athletes 20-16 (in alphabetical order):
* Ann Meyers Drysdale (basketball) – First women to earn athletic scholarship from UCLA, where she was a four-time All-American and then made NBA history signing a contact with the Indiana Pacers; current Vice President of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury
* Lisa Fernandez (softball) – Four-time All-American at UCLA and current assistant coach; holds the Olympic record in softball with 25 strikeouts in one game
* Michelle Kwan (figure skating) – Two-time Olympic medalist, five-time World champion and nine-time U.S. champion
* Sheryl Swoopes (basketball) – An All-American and Naismith Player of the Year at Texas Tech, winning national championship in 1993 and was the first player to be signed by the WNBA when it was created
* Lindsay Vonn (alpine ski racer) – Four-time World Cup champion, Olympic Gold medalist and one of five women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines of alpine skiing – downhill, super G, giant slalom, slalom, and super combined
Quotes from select vignettes:
Robin Roberts on Lisa Fernandez: “Ooh, Lisa Fernandez. Bring the heat, baby! Bring the heat! Oh my goodness – she’s just a rock star…before we had rock stars in softball. I was scared of her and I was in the press box!”
Dick Vitale on Sheryl Swoopes: “Talented beyond belief. Dominating player. Likes the big stage and performs exceptionally well when on the big stage.”
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 top 10 female athletes will be revealed during the 11 p.m. weeknight SportsCenter (June 11-22), culminating with the No. 1 female athlete of the past 40 years 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) and No. 23 Tracy Caulkins (swimming).
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.