Al Bello/Getty ImagesA monster forehand and immaculate footwork helped Steffi Graf capture 22 Grand Slam singles trophies.ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.
When she was 18, Steffi Graf took down a legend in the finals of the French Open. A year later, Graf won the "Golden Slam," claiming all four majors and winning the gold medal at the Seoul Olympics.
In all, the No. 9 woman in ESPN's countdown won 22 major singles titles, second all-time for women and men, and was ranked No. 1 in the world for 186 consecutive weeks.
"She would be out on the courts in the early morning putting in the work," says former men's tour player Brad Gilbert, who coached Graf's husband, Andre Agassi. "She was always putting in the work. When somebody is that great and working harder than anybody else, that's when you get absolute greatness."
Read the full 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
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
No. 20: Figure skater Michelle Kwan
No. 19: Skier Lindsey Vonn
No. 18: Softball player Lisa Fernandez
No. 17: Basketball player Ann Meyers Drysdale
No. 16: Basketball player Sheryl Swoopes
No. 15: Swimmer Janet Evans
No. 14: Figure skater Katarina Witt
No. 13: Basketball player Cheryl Miller
No. 12: Sprinter Florence Griffith-Joyner
No. 11: Tennis player Billie Jean King
No. 10: Tennis player Serena Williams