Jacques Demarthon/AFP/Getty ImagesAs an eighth-grader, Michelle Kwan finished eighth at the 1994 world championships.ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
As a 13-year-old, Michelle Kwan was thrust into one of the ugliest scenes in figure skating history when she was sent to the 1994 Winter Olympics as an alternate following an attack on Nancy Kerrigan that Tonya Harding was later linked to.
And while Kwan didn't get a chance to skate in Lillehammer -- Kerrigan took silver and Harding finished eighth -- it was from those ugly roots that one of the most artistic and elegant figure skaters of all time grew.
Kwan's career ended with five world championships and nine U.S. titles, but she was never able to capture Olympic gold, settling for a silver in 1998 and a bronze in 2002.
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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
No. 26: Basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw
No. 25: Swimmer Dara Torres
No. 24: Golfer Nancy Lopez
No. 23: Swimmer Tracy Caulkins
No. 22: Soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva
No. 21: Tennis player Venus Williams