30 greatest female athletes of all time

It's Women's History Month and to honor the great women who have graced the sports world, we've put together a list of the greatest female athletes ever.

Caitlin Clark celebrates a big play for the Iowa Hawkeyes
Caitlin Clark celebrates a big play for the Iowa Hawkeyes / Matthew Holst/GettyImages
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10. Mia Hamm
Soccer

Mia Hamm is probably one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of great female athletes. She was to women’s soccer what Tony Hawk is to skateboarding. She didn’t invent the sport, but she brought it to more eyes than anyone else. 

Despite being born in Alabama, Hamm learned soccer in Italy while stationed on an Air Force base with her family. Like millions of kids across the country, her father coached her first team once they moved to Texas. She was just five years old. Eventually, her journey brought her to North Carolina, where she became the star. In 95 college matches, the Tar Heels lost one with Hamm on the team. One! In 2003, she shared an honor with fellow Tar Heel Michael Jordan, named the greatest player in the history of the ACC.

In her international career, Hamm has two World Cup wins and two Olympic gold medals. In 42 matches between the two tourneys, she has 14 goals. She helped the U.S. win gold in Atlanta, which was the first Olympics that showcased women’s soccer. It was a great moment for the sport, and it was even better for women’s soccer that it happened on home soil.

Hamm made her debut at just 15 years old, and from that point until her retirement, she scored 275 times. She left the game with a record for international goals, 158 in her career. While it’s been passed by Wambach and Canada’s Christine Sinclair, she’s still the top player in her sport. Laying the foundation means more than most. She was the inaugural FIFA Women's World Player of the Year in 2001 and immediately became a back-to-back winner in 2002. The awards and records continue to mount, and Hamm was a great that’s hard to compete with.