High-SchoolGirl: Women's World Cup

40 greatest female athletes: Mia Hamm

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
9:35
AM ET
Mia HammBen Radford/Getty ImagesMia Hamm possessed astonishing acceleration and made fearless runs at defenders. She also had the smarts and skills to create.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

Mia Hamm was just 15 years old when she became the youngest woman ever to don the jersey of the U.S. senior squad.

She wore that jersey for 18 years and scored 158 international goals, more than any player ever, and tallied 144 career assists, the most ever by an American player.

The No. 1 player in ESPN's countdown, Hamm appeared in the first four Women's World Cups, winning two of them -- including the mythic 1999 tourney on home soil. She also won gold in the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics.

"My motivation is not about personal gains," she once said. "I want to do as much as I can to get the sport out there."

She retired a winner, a legend and a symbol of what women's sports can be.

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
No. 2: Tennis player Martina Navratilova

40 greatest female athletes: Marta

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
8:54
AM ET
MartaLars Baron/Getty ImagesMarta has become a full-fledged superstar in soccer-mad South America, where the women's game has long struggled to make inroads.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

American midfielder Leslie Osborne still remembers the first time she saw the No. 22 woman in ESPN's countdown play.

Marta, as she was simply known, was only 16 at the 2002 Under-19 Women's World Cup, but she already was special enough to leave an impression.

"She had qualities I had never seen before in other female players," Osborne recalls.

Still just 26, Marta already has gone on to be a five-time FIFA World Player of the Year (2006-10). She has netted 80 goals in 72 games for Brazil, and was the leading scorer in Women's Professional Soccer during each of her three seasons.

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
Michelle AkersAP Photo/John T. GreilickMichelle Akers hung up her cleats knowing that the sport was in good hands on the home front with stars Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

She was a four-time All-American at Central Florida. She scored 105 goals in 153 appearances for the U.S. She earned the Golden Boot as the leading scorer at the 1991 Women's World Cup. She won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Summer Games and another World Cup in 1999. She was voted FIFA Woman Player of the Century, alongside China's Sun Wen. And in 2004, she was one of two women on Pele's list of the 125 greatest living players.

But you might not have heard of Michelle Akers, No. 27 in ESPN's countdown.

"She was one of the greatest players ever, but kids now don't necessarily know who she was because there was so much less exposure back then," former U.S. star Julie Foudy says. "The game was really just starting with her."

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

Year-end cheers to Abby Wambach

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
2:48
PM ET
Abby Wambach, the heart and soul of the United States' Women's World Cup team that inspired the nation this summer, has been named the female athlete of the year by The Associated Press.

Her signature moment came in the quarterfinal against Brazil.

Down a player for almost an hour, the Americans were less than 90 seconds from losing in overtime after squandering an early lead. But in the 122nd minute, Wambach rose above the Brazilian defenders and scored on a header, setting off pandemonium in the stadium.

"It just seemed surreal. Even in the moment, I was feeling like it was a dream because we were so against the ropes and everything was pointed to us going down that day," Wambach said. "But there was something inside of us that wasn't going to allow that to happen. We weren't quite ready to give up."

Wambach led the Americans to the final, where they lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

The 31-year-old ranks third on the U.S. career scoring list with 125 goals, trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).

"Hopefully when I'm long gone, this team is so good that people don't even talk about (me)," she said. "Truthfully."

Click here for the full story on espnW.

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