ESPNW is counting down the top 40 female athletes in the past 40 years to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which promoted gender equality in women's sports by saying,
No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid.
ESPNW created their list by using an industry-wide panel of journalists and women's sports experts, and so far they have profiled 34 players, 5 of which are tennis players! Both Williams sisters are on the list - Venus is ranked number 21 and Serena is ranked number 10. Below are snippets of their profiles.
As a 10-year veteran of the WTA Player Council and an ambassador for the WTA/UNESCO Gender Equality Program, Williams has fought for equal pay for female athletes. Without her efforts, Wimbledon and the French Open might still be awarding more prize money to male champions than to their female counterparts.
"Venus is our modern-day Billie Jean King," WTA president Stacey Allister says. "She has been a driving force behind the U.S. and global growth of women's tennis. She has given our sport so much."
Like some other tennis icons over the years (John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors), Williams is known for her occasionally over-the-top temper and her candor in news conferences. But fans eat it up. She is a glamorous red-carpet starlet whose cross-cultural appeal has made her one of the wealthiest female athletes in the world. She has won north of $36 million in career prize money -- a record in women's sports -- plus tens of millions in off-court earnings.
Her staying power is about more than just her talent. As she showed during that astounding run at the 2007 Aussie Open, Serena is, first and foremost, a ferocious competitor. "I think she'll be known for her intensity," Shriver says. "When she is at her most dominant, she might be the most intimidating player ever."
More tennis players on the list: Billie Jean King at number 11, Steffi Graf at number 9, and Chris Evert at number 7.
Every weekday until June 22nd, the site will count down the remaining 6 athletes and they will also be featured on "SportsCenter." Martina Navratilova is definitely in the top 5. Do you think she'll be number 1? Click here daily to find out!
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