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40 greatest female athletes: Annika Sorenstam

6/19/2012
Annika Sorenstam was the LPGA Tour's player of the year a record eight times. Travis Lindquist/Getty Images

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

Are you painfully shy? So was Annika Sorenstam. The woman who won 72 titles on the LPGA Tour once dreaded winning junior tournaments because of the speeches that were required afterward.

But the No. 4 woman in ESPN's countdown gamely withstood the media glare as a global television audience watched every hole she played in 2003 at the PGA's Colonial, a tournament she entered because she wanted to test herself against the best in the game.

"She was the dominant player in her sport," says fellow golfer Laura Davies. "She had to change. It was that or really be miserable. I think by the end of her career, she actually enjoyed the spotlight."

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