40 greatest female athletes: Chamique Holdsclaw

Chamique Holdsclaw's name will always be synonymous with Tennessee, where she enjoyed four magical years and elevated women's basketball. AP Photo/Wade Payne

ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

With a game unlike anything women's basketball had seen, Chamique Holdsclaw was tabbed the "female Michael Jordan."

She had size, but also grace. She had a fluid outside shot, but could also post up. She possessed an endearing goofiness and innocence, but also a steely will at game's end.

Holdsclaw, No. 26 in ESPN's countdown, helped Tennessee become the first women's basketball team in NCAA history to three-peat, winning titles in 1996, '97 and '98.

She finished her college career with 3,025 points and 1,295 rebounds, becoming just the fifth player in NCAA history to score more than 3,000. She led Tennessee to a record of 134-17, and twice won the Naismith Award (1998 and '99) as the nation's top player. She would go on to become the No. 1 pick in the 1999 WNBA draft and earn Rookie of the Year honors. She was also a six-time WNBA All-Star and a member of Team USA, which won Olympic gold in 2000.

"She made every young player want to be the next Chamique Holdsclaw," says Holly Warlick, now Tennessee's coach. "And, boy, was that good for women's basketball."

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:

No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia

No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone

No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton

No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato

No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly

No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi

No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman

No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach

No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher

No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit

No. 30: Sprinter Gail Devers

No. 29: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman

No. 28: Marathoner Grete Waitz

No. 27: Soccer player Michelle Akers