Women compete on an equal footing with men nowadays when it comes to sheer talent, achievements, prize money and endorsements. Here's a quick round up of the top five female athletes in the world of sport for the past five years, in no particular order.
Name: Shawn Johnson, USA
Sport: Women's artistic gymnastics
Won a gold medal and three silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and three gold medals at the 2007 World Championship, Germany. Won four gold medals at the 2007 Pan-American Games, Rio de Janeiro. She was voted "America's Most-Liked Sports Figure" (Forbes, 2009) and winner of the AAU James E. Sullivan Award (2009).
Name: Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazil
Winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or, 2010, FIFA World Player of the Year (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). Recipient of the Golden Ball (Most Valuable Player) for the FIFA Under 19 Women's World Championship, 2004. Winner of the Golden Ball and Golden Boot Awards, Women's World Cup, 2007.
Name: Lauren Jackson, Australia
Awarded Most Valuable Player of the year by the Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) four times as well as the WNBL Grand Final Most Valuable Player twice. Two-time gold medallist (2006 World Championship, Brazil and 2006 Commonwealth Games, Melbourne). Three-time Olympic silver medallist (2000, 2004, 2008).
Name: Yelena Isinbayeva, Russia
Sport: Pole Vault
Two-time Olympic Gold medallist (2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing), two-time Gold medallist at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics (2005 Helsinki, 2007 Osaka), and three-time Gold medallist at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics (2004 Budapest, 2006 Moscow, and 2008 Valencia). IAAF awarded her the Female Athlete of the Year Award in 2004, 2005 and 2008. She was also named World Sportswoman of the Year in 2007 and 2009 (Laureus World Sports Awards).
Name: Victoria Azarenka, Belarus
Azarenka is currently the World No: 1 female tennis player and has won 10 WTA titles. She is the first Belarusian female tennis player to reach the World No: 1 position. Winner of the Australian Open (2012), US Open (2007, mixed doubles), and French Open (2008, mixed doubles). She reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2011 and has an impressive career win/loss record of 291/122.
Honourable mention for Maria Sharapova (tennis),) Caroline Wozniacki (tennis), Venus and Serena Williams (tennis), Danica Patrick (car racing), Kim Yu-Na (figure skating), and Paula Creamer (golf) who have had illustrious careers and still rank regularly in the list of the world's most admired and highest paid female athletes.
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