People's Sexiest Athletes Over the Years
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (2016 cover)
The athlete-turned-actor was named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2016. Johnson, 44, played college football at the University of Miami, but is known to most fans as The Rock during his stint as a professional wrestler with the WWE and his action movies. “I said, ‘That’s awesome.’ And then what went through my mind was just how cool and exciting it is,” Johnson told People. “And then I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle.’ I’m not quite too sure where we go from here. I’ve done it all, this is it.”
David Beckham (2007, '08, '13, '14 and 2015 cover)
After numerous appearances in PEOPLE's SMA issue, David Beckham, who retired from professional soccer in 2013, became the first athlete to earn the coveted title of "Sexiest Man Alive" in 2015, at age 40. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Beckham joked. “I would obviously like to thank my parents for bringing me into this world. And I’d like to thank my hairdresser, my stylist, and Photoshop.”
Cristiano Ronaldo (2012, '16)
The soccer stud gets his kicks playing forward for Real Madrid and leading the Portuguese national team. Since joining the Spanish squad in 2009, his speedy footwork and game-changing free kicks crush records (ones he set in the first place) made him the higest-paid footballer in the world. We're pretty sure that's why Ronaldo had 26 million Facebook fans and three million Twitter followers in 2012 – and not because of those jaw-dropping Emporio Armani underwear ads.
Tim Tebow (2012, '14, '16)
"I don't go through life trying to be sexy; I go through life trying to help others," the then-sports broadcaster told PEOPLE in 2014. "It sort of hits me out of the blue when I find out that anyone finds me attractive. I mean, it's a great compliment, but I'm just trying to do the right things and live my life in the right way. I want to be noticed for the right reasons."
Shaun White (2014)
In 2014, the two-time Olympic gold medalist appeared in the segment "Sexy Guys & Their Pets" with his French bulldog, Rambo — a star in his own right.
Ryan Lochte (2012)
Oh, jeah! Aside from setting records in 2012, including the 200-meter individual medley world record, the 200-meter freestyle American record and the 200-meter backstroke American record, Lochte had earned 11 Olympic medals, five of which were gold. As for taking a dip in the dating pool, the hard-bodied, often-shirtless bachelor admitted to PEOPLE, "I'm always looking for the perfect girl." In 2012 Lochte posed with his dog Carter, a 5-year-old Doberman pinscher and the Olympic swimmer’s lady magnet. “He is a good wingman because he’s a beautiful dog,” Lochte told PEOPLE. “Girls come up to me and go, ‘Oh my god, where’s Carter? He’s so good looking!’”
Helio Castroneves (2007)
What the IndyCar driver and Dancing with the Stars contestant (and eventual winner) in 2007 said he loves about women: “Nice shapely legs. Whoo! That drives me crazy—legs for me are just spectacular. This show is killing me! And the best thing is I can lay my hands all over [dance partner] Julianne Hough’s body and nobody can say a thing. It’s work! I have to do it!” And what women love most about him: “My smile and my dimples. I like them too!”
Roger Federer (2005, '10)
He was the world’s top-ranked tennis player and his sport’s newest goodwill ambassador in 2005. Away from the game, the Basel native sharpened up his look. “I was getting sick and tired of long hair, and it got shorter and shorter, so we asked [celebrity hairstylist] Sally Hershberger. We got good feedback. I feel more comfortable. It looks better off-court. Sometimes I really liked it on-court, and off-court it was horrible.” Regarding his updated wardrobe: “When I began receiving all these awards, I remember looking into my closet and I had like one or two suits. When I got the first Prada suit I was so happy to wear a suit like that because there was stretch. It felt like a tracksuit.”
Andy Roddick (2003, '06)
“I wake up grumpy and in need of food, so I don’t talk for 20 minutes,” said Roddick in 2003. “I’m much more fun at night.” The second tennis player to host Saturday Night Live (Chris Evert was first back in 1989) knew how to keep then-girlfriend Mandy Moore entertained. “I like to sing, no matter how bad I sound,” he says, “and Mandy just laughs.”
James Blake (2002, '07)
Since his debut, the 6’1″ Blake, who left Harvard in 1999 after two years to turn pro, soared from 219th to 28th in the rankings in 2002—and signed with a modeling agency. “Everybody makes fun of him for that,” said brother Thomas, who was also on the pro tour and lived with James in Tampa. “People are calling him GQ.” Without a girlfriend at the time, Harvard pal Camila McLean attributed it to shyness. “He never wants to be the “Hel-LO, I’m James Blake’ kind of guy,” she said. “But he needs to figure out how to work that into his mojo!”
Tiki and Ronde Barber (2001)
For his wife's 30th birthday in 2001, Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde threw her an elaborate surprise party, racing home early to cover their bed in rose petals. “He is the perfect man,” she said. Or nearly. He’s also a neat freak who “a couple of times has made the bed before I was ready to get up.” New York Giants running back Tiki is the one who liked to hit Manhattan’s hot spots in designer suits with then-wife Ginny, a fashion-publicist. The more sharply dressed Barber cheerfully admitted that his wife “wears and picks out the pants. I know what my role is.”
Ricky Williams, pictured with Kadra Ahme-Omar (1999)
Ricky Williams had long had a problem with girls: They wouldn’t leave him alone. “When he was a student at San Diego’s Patrick Henry High School, remembered classmate Chad Patmon, the football hero was “the good-hearted guy every woman was looking for. One time he was dating four or five girls at once.” What was different at age 22 was the velocity. Miami Herald sports columnist and pal Dan Le Batard said: “Women lunge at him as if by catapult.” One reason, of course, was the rushing Williams did himself.
Elvis Grbac (1998)
Leaping tall buildings in a single bound might be stretching it. But if you needed a missile aimed with laser-like precision by a stalwartly handsome guy with a crew cut and a chiseled jaw, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac was your man. “I never pictured Elvis as a ladies’ man,” stated his University of Michigan coach Jerry Hanlon. Then again, Grbac never had time: The Cleveland native—yes, named after that Elvis by his Croatian-born parents—was still in high school when he began dating wife Lori, with whom he now has three children. Though he had met interesting and famous people, said Grbac, “no one compares to her.” Lucky Lori knew why he’s her superhero: “His personality makes him sexy.”
Patrick Rafter (1997)
“I didn’t even go out with girls until I was 20,” confessed Patrick Rafter. “I was afraid of girls in high school.” The Aussie tennis star, who dated a succession of Dutch models, certainly made up for lost time. Good thing, too, or the 6’1″ winner of the 1997 (and '98) U.S. Open would never have survived the hordes of teenage girls and young women who mobbed him after every match.