40 greatest female athletes: Martina Navratilova

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
1:38
PM ET
Martina NavratilovaGetty ImagesA slice backhand and a brilliant net game helped Martina Navratilova win a record nine Wimbledon singles titles.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

Martina Navratilova arrived on the tennis stage as a 16-year-old in the 1973 French Open, where she made it to the quarterfinals as an unseeded player.

By the time she was finished after more than 30 years in professional tennis, she had amassed more singles titles (167) and doubles titles (177) than any woman or man in the Open Era.

The No. 2 woman in ESPN's countdown won 18 Grand Slam singles titles -- including a record nine Wimbledon trophies -- and 59 majors altogether, including the U.S. Open mixed doubles title in 2006, when she was a month shy of her 50th birthday. She claimed major titles in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Legend Billie Jean King calls Navratilova "the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived."

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
No. 9: Tennis player Steffi Graf
No. 8: Gymnast Nadia Comaneci
No. 7: Tennis player Chris Evert
No. 6: Speedskater Bonnie Blair
No. 5: Basketball player Lisa Leslie
No. 4: Golfer Annika Sorenstam
No. 3: Track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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