Basketball would never look the same following the rise of Larry Bird. After his exceptional career at Indiana State University, Bird became one of the game’s greatest players in the NBA, elevating the game from its troubled past and into a promising future and exciting entertainment brand.
Before he would change the NBA forever due to his rivalry and friendship with Magic Johnson, Bird was just an exciting basketball player at Indiana State. Bird had recently played through a successful sophomore year with the Sycamores, averaging nearly 33 points per game and 13 rebounds per game.
Sports Illustrated decided he would be the perfect fit for the cover of their college basketball preview issue. Bird was only 20 at the time but was more than willing to join them for his first Sports Illustrated cover appearance. 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the notorious magazine cover.
The cover depicted Bird standing with his hands on his hips as two cheerleaders “shh” the reader with an index finger over their lips. Although only one image made the cover, Sports Illustrated recently released a few of the outtake images to commemorate the anniversary of the shoot.
The iconic issue received a second wind of popularity following a 2014 photoshoot for the March Madness preview issue. On it, Creighton University’s star Doug McDermott posed similarly to Bird with his hands on his hips and two cheerleaders by his side. McDermott now plays for the New York Knicks.
Sports Illustrated placed Indiana State at number 17 in their preseason rankings, mainly due to Bird’s influence.
Greg Sanders, a Sports Illustrated writer, wrote about the young Bird, “Because of Bird’s instant orientation and unerring touch around the basket and his flair for offensive rebounding, most opponents have tried to force him outside. There he merely banged away with the same jump shot he developed in his backyard as a kid: head cocked slightly to one side like Jack Nicklaus as he prepares to hit a long drive, easy motion over the top, plenty of rotation on the ball upon release.”
Not only are these women etching their names in the pages of sports history, but they’re also looking absolutely beautiful while doing so! Many of these female athletes have done their fair share of endorsement deals and modeling jobs, and it’s easy to see why — they’re drop-dead gorgeous! Why do one when you can have the best of both worlds? Here are some of the most beautiful female athletes.
As a professional athlete, how much money would you consider as enough money? The answer for Caroline Wozniacki is $35,233,415. Surprisingly, this is the exact amount Wozniacki managed to put in her bank before retiring this year.
She announced her retirement in 2020 at the age of 29. This is a woman who has won a Grand Slam tournament and held the global number one ranking. And to see her retire before she turns 30? It’s a shame she couldn’t wow us with her talent for a few more years.
Sadly, the professional pole-vaulting industry doesn’t get the deserved attention in the sports department, but Allison Stokke changed everything when she went viral. With that being said, her career has gone through many controversies, but Stokke seems to soldier on.
She started her professional career after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. At that time, she landed multiple modeling gigs with Athleta and Nike, as well as many endorsements. In October 2019, Stokke tied the knot with Rickie Fowler, a professional golfer.
Prior to becoming a professional in 2015, Spiranac played golf during her college days at both the San Diego State and University of Arizona. However, the former Mountain West Conference champion had more success in those days in comparison to professional games.
She had only one season in the LPGA and two on the professional golf circuit. When she realized she wouldn’t be able to go far with golf, she fell back on her second option — beauty! She’s appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition plus Golf Digest.
At the tender age of five, Anastasia Ashley picked up her very first surfboard. She never really looked back as her first contest win came when was six and the first confirmed sponsorship at age seven. While most kids were jumping rope or playing hopscotch, Ashley was busy taming the waves.
She’s won it all — the Professional Surfing Tour Championship and the National Scholastic Surfing Association. A woman of many talents, Ashley owns her own jewelry line and modeled for Maxim.
Although Lindsey Vonn can boast a case full of medals, she’s probably still lamenting about the others she could have scooped up during the Winter Olympics of 2014. As what happens to many other athletes during their career, Vonn missed some as she was injured.
Sadly, the injury stopped her from defending her gold medal at the Olympics. However, she can truly be proud of an unmatched career by holding the title for the most World Cup skiing titles in the history of female sports.
Even before reaching the age of 10, Marta Menegatti had been loving sports. This Italian professional beach volleyball player boasts two golds and seven each of slice and bronze medals in her trophy case from her conquests on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
She, along with the Italian women’s National Team, got their first World Tour Title in September 2015. Menegatti is quite active on her social media handles, with her Instagram follower count crossing the 50,000 mark.
Although not a golfer anymore, Blair O’Neal puts her short career experience to great use. She made a huge entry in the golf scene after appearing on the Golf Channel’s, The Big Break.
The exposure plus her good looks roped in multiple sponsorship deals and eased her transition into a television and modeling career. She hasn’t professionally golfed since 2015 and currently spends her time working on shows like Morning Drive on the Golf Channel.
Typically, gymnasts have painfully short careers as they’re mostly retired by the end of their teenage years. Aly Raisman stands out from everyone else in her field as this talented gymnast took part in two Olympics.
For both the years of 2012 and 2016, Raisman received gold medals at the Olympics, making her the second American in all of history to score back to back golds in team competitions. She can definitely thank her longevity. She holds six Olympic medals, making her the second-most awarded Olympic gymnast in US history.
If there’s someone who’s bagging all the trophies, it’s Skylar Diggins. She’s recently signed a huge deal with the Phoenix Mercury and is a four-time WNBA All-Star. As she was on maternity leave, she had to sit out for the whole season of 2019, and she came back stronger and hungrier than ever!
Currently, Diggins is living a happy married life with husband Daniel Smith, ex-Notre Dame wide receiver. She signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports in 2013, making her the first female athlete to join the brand.
When she’s not setting the field on fire with her swift soccer skills and calculated strike, Alex Morgan is busy stealing hearts with her undeniable beauty.
Morgan has been an indispensable part of the American Women’s Nation Team for more than 10 years now and has scored more than a hundred goals for her country. She’s wedded to Servando Carrasco, another professional soccer player. The duo welcomed their first child in May of 2020.
When she was just nine, Sage Erickson’s parents moved to Oahu, Hawaii. For most of us, this would mean being able to sit by the beach for longer, a sunburn that never goes away, and jungle exploration filled with adventures. For her, it meant a gate to the world of surfing.
Fast forward about two decades and Erickson is one of the best female surfers on the planet. She won two US Open of Surfing championships and presently holds the 13th rank in the global list of World Surf League.
Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lauren Sesselmann played soccer at a college level at Purdue University. She had a relatively decent start to her career and decided to use her father’s descent to get Canadian citizenship.
With little to no hope of ever getting called for the already-loaded US national team, Sesselmann headed to Canada and made her place in the National Team. She earned a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics playing for Canada and appeared in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Naturally, Jaqueline Carvalho towers over any average crowd with her 6’1″ stature, except when she’s working. Carvalho had a pretty normal life as she grew up in Recife, Brazil. As a professional volleyball player, this gifted and beautiful woman has made her contributions toward Brazil dominating the Olympic Women’s Volleyball section.
She scored back to back golds at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics for her home country. Although she retired from the international scene in 2018, she continues to play professionally with Osasco Audax in Brazil.
Talk about a stunning start to a career! Winifer Fernandez scooped up the Best Receiver, Best Digger, and Best Libro awards at the NORECA Youth Championships of 2010. Her professional career commenced shortly after that. She spent some years of her career playing for Azerbaijan and her native nation, Dominican Republic.
Fernandez has always been recognized for her stellar good looks, which earned her a spot on a few “Most Beautiful Athletes” lists, but her playing skills are the only thing she really wants to be known for.
Shelina Zadorsky may come from Canada, but her skills in the field of soccer have made her a global star. She moved to the US to play at the college level for the University of Michigan prior to embarking on her professional journey that would take her to places like Sweden and Australia before returning to the US.
Zadorsky has played more than 60 times on the national team, including at the Olympics of 2016 and FIFA Women’s World Cup of 2019. Currently, she dons the jersey of Orlando Pride in the NWSL.
Many probably didn’t know this, but before taking over the MMA scene, Ronda Rousey was a household name. She was the first American female to scoop an Olympic accolade in judo. In 2008, she got the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.
This paved the way for her entry into a career in MMA, and the rest is history. Rousey used her fame and popularity to kick-start her WWE career. Even though the fights are set up these days, we can see her flipping her opponents around in the ring.
Maria Sharapova picked up the WTA Newcomer of the Year award when she was just 16. This was only a couple of years after she had an incredible debut season in which she competed against some huge players in the Grand Slam, alongside winning a tournament in Japan.
Merely two years later, the world had agreed — she was the number one player in the female tennis scene, and she became a global icon. Since then, Sharapova has won a total of 36 titles and earned a career Grand Slam. There’s really no one that’s truly on her level.
In a clan filled with skiers, Knight paved her own path. Hilary Knight became an ice-hockey player and a world-class one at that! She started her career by scoring a win at a National Championship at the University of Wisconsin.
Her professional career began after she completed college, and she quickly began playing for teams like the Boston Blades, Boston Pride, and finally — her present team — Les Canadiennes de Montréal. Knight represented her nation at 2010, 2014, and 2018 Olympics, picking up a gold medal and two silvers.
For someone that looks so sweet, Camila Giorgi is bursting in power. She’s considered one of the hardest hitters in the whole women’s tennis scene. Giorgi’s career may not have reached the heights as some of her contemporaries, but she’s made about $4 million through her time.
In 2018, she reached a career peak after qualifying for the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, consequently earning the 26th world ranking. Interesting fact — Giorgi’s mom is a fashion designer, and she designs a new dress for her daughter for each of her matches.
Julie Ertz truly is one of the most decorated soccer players in the history of the United States’ women’s football. She was known earlier as Julie Johnston, and she is the winner of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups along with the National Team.
Not only that, but Ertz is also a two-time Female US Soccer Player of the Year. Right now, she wears the ever-so-familiar white and blue jersey as she plays for the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL.
Michelle Jenneke had gone viral at a time when going viral wasn’t even a thing. The whole world had gone crazy over her warm-up dance before a race in 2012. The hurdler maintains a pre-race warm-up routine, which sees her flashing the biggest smile and vigorously shaking the hips.
Shakira, who? It can be assumed that Jenneke would have never been this famous if not for the routine as she wasn’t the best in her field. After qualifying for the 2016 Olympics, she finished in 37th place.
Brooke Mayo is a flyweight competing in the Bellator circuit. Her first fight took place at WFC 14 in an MMA ring about five years ago. Since then, she’s been a prominent figure in the amateur scene in California, her hometown.
Things got a bit tougher after she turned pro. She tried her luck in two professional bouts but lost both. Still, she’s all about the MMA lifestyle, as she spends her free days with a partner and fellow MMA contestant, Nick Pica.
Originally from Canada, Sydney Leroux-Dwyer chose to take America’s side to play international soccer, thanks to her American father. This beauty made her professional debut as a teenager and has been a striking presence in the field ever since.
She earned an Olympic gold medal and secured a FIFA Women’s World Cup win playing with Team USA. In 2015, Leroux-Dwyer got hitched to MLS star and soccer player, Dom Dwyer.
Sally Fitzgibbons is one of those people who were born to shine in whichever field they chose. Even as a regular youngster growing up playing in the streets of Australia, she won national championships in soccer, track, surfing, touch football, and cross-country.
However, the azure waves of the ocean caught her eyes, and she’s been chasing waves ever since! Fitzgibbons is undoubtedly a legend in the surfing world and holds the title for the number one rather female surfer worldwide as of July 2019.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Ellen Hoog is a highly distinguished player in field hockey. Dutch field hockey players aren’t usually the ones that land on most sports fans’ radars, but when the player is this attractive, you’re bound to take a second glance.
She isn’t just a pretty face, though. Good is the star of the game. She scooped two gold medals in the Olympics and one silver with the Dutch national team, as well as numerous European Championships and World Cups.
Danica Patrick sacrificed her high school days to further her aspirations to become a top racer. She moved to England, hoping she will be able to make things work, and fortunately, it all went great.
For every little girl that sits in front of the TV set with big, sparkly eyes, admiring the racing ring, there’s a teenager from Wisconsin who conquered the field of Formula One racing — it’s Danica Patrick. Her career reached a new height when she appeared on NASCAR. Additionally, she bagged many brand deals and endorsements.
Hawaiians have the waves running in their veins, so almost every other native has this indescribable bond with the sea and the surfboard. Alessa Quizon had a super early start — at the age of four, and she never looked back.
Currently, she ranks 83rd in the World Surf League. However, when surfing becomes a way of life, ranking is the least concern. Her Instagram profile tells us she’s been living the best surfer life with adequate time under the ocean and between the aquamarine waves.
Elena Delle Donne
Elena Delle Donne is one of the few top players in the women’s scene who didn’t attend UConn. Instead, Donne played her college years for the University of Delaware. She was the star of the Blue Hens and ranked second overall in the WNBA Draft of 2013.
During her league career, she has scoped two MVP awards, become an All-Star six times, and in 2019, she finally won the WNBA Championships with the Washington Mystics. If not the best, she is one of the greatest players in the league.
She’s the greatest American female in the history of her industry, but you probably never even heard of her. Why? The field and track world isn’t on the average public’s radar, and the steeplechase event is the last thing they would look into if they weren’t ardent fans.
Coburn holds an American record in the 3000-meter steeplechase. Amazingly, she was the first American woman ever to land a medal in the event when she scored a bronze at the Olympics of 2016, and a gold at the 2019 World Championships.
Candace Parker is the only woman in history to win the Gatorade Girls High School Basketball Player of the Year Award two times. After the win, she went to the University of Tennessee and continued to rule the field.
Parker holds the record for the first woman to perform a dunk in an NCAA tournament game as well as the first woman to dunk twice. She has been named an All-Star five times, become MVP twice, and won the WNBA Championship in 2016 while playing for the LA Sparks.
Anna Kournikova is a Russian ex-pro tennis player born with athleticism coursing through her cells. Her father is a former wrestling champion who taught martial arts, her mother ran races, and her brother plays pro golf.
She was launched into international stardom when she was just a teenager — in the late ‘90s — and has since been featured on the cover of multiple magazines including Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and Maxim. 2002 saw her make an FHM list!
If there’s one female softball player the whole world knows, it has got to be Jennie Finch. The two-time All-Star, 39-year-old played for the Arizona Wildcats, Chicago Bandits — and obviously, Team USA where she led everyone to victory on numerous occasions.
The team won a gold medal in 2004 and a silver four years later. Finch retired from sports in 2010, but she remains in touch through her commentary job with ESPN. She’s also made it to the National Hall of Fame for her contributions to the game.
25-year-old Paige VanZant has accomplished a lot in her career, but the most noteworthy mentions come from her time as a UFC flyweight and strawweight fighter, the first of which has her at a world ranking of 13.
VanZant has appeared on some TV shows, including the 22nd season of Dancing With the Stars where she landed second place with Mark Ballas, and also Chopped in 2017. She released her autobiography titled Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life in 2018.
Like most surfers, Alana Blanchard risks her life almost every time she steps into the water and does what she does. Side fact — Blanchard’s friend got attacked by a shark right in front of her, but that didn’t falter her spirits, and she soon returned to what she loves the most, and that is getting on a board and conquering the waves.
Apart from being a great surfer, she’s also a swimwear model who does ads for Curl Swimwear. She’s managed to land an endorsement deal with Reebok recently.
Jennifer Lacy’s athletic genes might have been passed down to her by her father, Lee, who was a Major League Baseball player. She joined the WNBA after playing basketball at a college level for Pepperdine University. Amidst the off-season from 2008 and 2009, Lacy played for the Beijing Shougang in China.
2013 was a horrible year for her — the year when she got attacked by her former girlfriend, Chamique Holdsclaw, another fellow former WNBA player. Thankfully, Lucy remained unscathed…
Thanks to her older sister, Gabby Douglas was out snatching medals by the time she was eight. Her sister had taught toddler Douglas how to do a cartwheel, and perhaps that triggered the athletic nerves in her, slowly building her into one of the most gifted professional gymnasts of her time.
She began training full-time when she was 14, and she was already earning gold medals in big contests by 2010. Douglas is the first African American in the history of the Summer Olympics to become an All-Around Gold Medalist.
The Canadian queen of pole and hearts, Robin Bone, is a three-time U Sports national champion who shocks with looks and talents in the pole-vaulting scene. Currently, she’s signed under the Slu Agency as a model, and she boasts an Instagram account with an impressive count of followers.
Give it a visit for her daily workout routines and competition progress. Before she became a pole-vaulting star, Bone was practicing a sport different altogether — gymnastics.
Sultry red-haired Becky Lynch who also goes by the name Rebecca Quin has become quite a celebrity in the WWE ring, which the federation she currently calls home. The Irish wrestling icon began her journey in the industry 18 years ago and signed with WWE in 2012.
Even after eight long years, she’s still relevant — and rocking! Lynch had one heck of a 2019, getting multiple wins under her belt alongside defending her title of Smackdown Women’s Championship. She’s also appeared on screen here and there.
Hope Solo is the undisputed face of female soccer in the US — for anyone who has never watched said game in America. Solo is one of the best goalies in the world and completed many major competitions across the world, including the Olympics, where she landed a spot thrice and earned two gold medals.
Solo also played in the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the years of 2007, 2008, and 2011. That’s when she made the record for the second goalkeeper in history to have 100 caps.
32-year-old Antonija Sandric got her big break in the Croatian professional basketball league thanks to her older sister. Her professional career started in 2005, and she was already representing the national team at the Mediterranean games by 2009, where she was aptly crowned “Miss Mediterranean.”
While competing in the 2012 Olympics, The Bleacher Report titled her as the “most beautiful woman.” You wouldn’t be the first to think she’s stunning, as she’s widely considered Croatia’s prettiest sports stars.