Top 40 Athletes of the Title IX Era

Who made the grade?
Photo: John W. McDonough/SI


Who made the grade?

Considering the explosion of athletic opportunities over the last four decades, and the extraordinary women who have taken advantage of them, compiling a list of the top 40 female athletes of the Title IX era was a monumental undertaking. Paying homage to the original aim of the legislation -- increasing gender-equity in higher education -- we narrowed the pool of candidates with the stipulation that each had to have competed in a sport for at least one year at the college level. Doing so removed a host of worthy athletes such as Mary Lou Retton, Picabo Street and Venus Williams, but it opened up spots for many other women who also deserve accolades. After soliciting input from editors, producers and writers from the magazine and website, we present the top 40 female athletes of the last 40 years. Let the debate begin. (Send comments to


#40 -- Julie Foudy

Despite being one of the only women inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, captaining Team USA to two gold medals, two World Cup championships and unprecedented popularity, Foudy's most enduring legacy is as a Title IX advocate. The Bush administration appointed Foudy in 2002 to a panel considering overhauling Title IX. Foudy co-authored a minority report defending the law and issued compelling testimony in front of Congress that helped persuade lawmakers to leave Title IX unchanged.

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