World Fame 100: 2019's ranking of the most famous women athletes

Photo Illustration by Josue Evilla

In ESPN's fourth annual ranking of the 100 most famous athletes in the world, women make an appearance a grand total of three times. A bit distressing, no? Well, as Peter Keating writes in his World Fame 100 essay, it shouldn't be all that surprising. That's because the forces that keep athletes such as Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the list -- despite an ongoing investigation into a rape allegation -- also suppress women's abilities to crack into the top 100 and stay there. Read more of Keating's analysis here.

That didn't stop us from compiling a list of the most famous women athletes in the world. The ranking has its perennials; athletes such as Serena Williams and Alex Morgan have amassed a level of fame that transcends performance. But 2019's list has some newcomers as well, including India's most decorated boxer (who last year also became the most successful female boxer at the world championships) and a two-time Olympic BMX gold medalist from Colombia.

To identify the most famous athletes in the world, ESPN compiled a list of 800 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 78 countries. The names were ranked based on a formula that took into account three fame factors: Google search scores (peaks and averages measured on a 100-point scale), endorsement dollars and social media following. The following is a ranking of the top 25 women on that list. To see the full World Fame 100 and for more on the methodology, click here.


1. Serena Williams

Sport: Tennis
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Twitter, 10.8 million
Endorsements: $18.1 million
Google trends peak: 37
Google trends average: 3

2. Maria Sharapova

Sport: Tennis
Country: Russia
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 14.6 million
Endorsements: $17 million
Google trends peak: 5
Google trends average: 1

3. Sania Mirza

Sport: Tennis
Country: India
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 12.4 million
Endorsements: $2.13 million
Google trends peak: 2
Google trends average: 1

4. Caroline Wozniacki

Sport: Tennis
Country: Denmark
Biggest social media following: Twitter, 3.1 million
Endorsements: $6.3 million
Google trends peak: 8
Google trends average: 1

5. Saina Nehwal

Sport: Badminton
Country: India
Biggest social media following: Twitter, 8.0 million
Endorsements: $2 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

6. Venus Williams

Sport: Tennis
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 2.2 million
Endorsements: $10 million
Google trends peak: 3
Google trends average: 0

7. Lindsey Vonn

Sport: Skiing
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 1.6 million
Endorsements: $4.8 million
Google trends peak: 16
Google trends average: 1

8. Simona Halep

Sport: Tennis
Country: Romania
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 1.5 million
Endorsements: $4.7 million
Google trends peak: 12
Google trends average: 2

9. PV Sindhu

Sport: Badminton
Country: India
Biggest social media following: Twitter, 2.6 million
Endorsements: $8 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

10. Chloe Kim

Sport: Snowboarding
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 693,500
Endorsements: $7.5 million
Google trends peak: 10
Google trends average: 0

11. Naomi Osaka

Sport: Tennis
Country: Japan
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 696,000
Endorsements: $3 million
Google trends peak: 21
Google trends average: 1

12. Michelle Wie

Sport: Golf
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 495,800
Endorsements: $8.8 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

13. Simone Biles

Sport: Gymnastics
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 3.4 million
Endorsements: $6 million
Google trends peak: 2
Google trends average: 0

14. Angelique Kerber

Sport: Tennis
Country: Germany
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 875,500
Endorsements: $5 million
Google trends peak: 7
Google trends average: 1

15. Victoria Azarenka

Sport: Tennis
Country: Belarus
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 1.4 million
Endorsements: $6.8 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

16. Fu Yuanhui

Sport: Swimming
Country: China
Biggest social media following: Weibo, 7.5 million
Endorsements: $4.9 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

17. Mary Kom

Sport: Boxing
Country: India
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 3.4 million
Endorsements: $4.9 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

18. Katie Ledecky

Sport: Swimming
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 390,000
Endorsements: $7 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

19. Jwala Gutta

Sport: Badminton
Country: India
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 3 million
Endorsements: $4.9 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

20. Mariana Pajon

Sport: Cycling/BMX
Country: Colombia
Biggest social media following: Facebook, 2.7 million
Endorsements: $4.9 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

21. Sloane Stephens

Sport: Tennis
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 342,800
Endorsements: $5.5 million
Google trends peak: 3
Google trends average: 0

22. Alex Morgan

Sport: Soccer
Country: United States
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 5.4 million
Endorsements: $1.5 million
Google trends peak: 1
Google trends average: 0

23. Tessa Virtue

Sport: Figure Skating
Country: Canada
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 366,900
Endorsements: $2.5 million
Google trends peak: 9
Google trends average: 0

24. Garbine Muguruza

Sport: Tennis
Country: Spain
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 694,300
Endorsements: $3.3 million
Google trends peak: 3
Google trends average: 0

25. Alina Zagitova

Sport: Figure Skating
Country: Russia
Biggest social media following: Instagram, 489,900
Endorsements: $2.5 million
Google trends peak: 6
Google trends average: 0