40 greatest female athletes: Nadia Comaneci

June, 13, 2012
Nadia ComaneciAP Photo"Nadia had the most important impact on gymnastics," Bela Karolyi says. "She brought millions of children to the sport and made it the most-watched television event at the Olympics."

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

At the 1976 Olympics, 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci became synonymous with perfection.

On July 19 at the Montreal Games, the Romanian gymnast earned the first perfect 10 in Olympic history for her uneven bars routine.

But she was far from finished. The No. 8 woman in ESPN's countdown notched six more 10s in Montreal on her way to three gold medals, in the all-around, beam and uneven bars.

"She had an amazing capability to perform under pressure," her coach Bela Karolyi says. "As the competition got tough, she got even tougher.

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
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
No. 9: Tennis player Steffi Graf



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