Best Woman Athlete by Birth State
Alabama: Mia Hamm
In recognition of National Girls and Women in Sports Day (Feb. 4), SI.com presents the best woman athlete by birth state, beginning with Mia Hamm, who became the youngest national team player in history when she was named to the U.S. women's soccer team at 15. She would go on to help the team win two World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals during her 17-year national-team career. She retired in 2004 as the all-time leading scorer in international play, male or female, with 158 goals. (Worthy of consideration: Jennifer Chandler and Jo Ann Prentice.)<br><br>Send comments to email@example.com
Alaska: Hilary Lindh
A three-time Olympian (1988, '92 and '94), Lindh won a silver medal in the 1992 Games in the downhill and was the only American to medal in the 1997 World Championships, where she won gold in the downhill. Lindh won five U.S. Championships over the span of 11 years and was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 2005.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Molly Tuter.
Arizona: Kerri Strug
A member of five world-championship teams, Strug was the youngest member, at 14, of the 1992 U.S. bronze-medal-winning Olympic gymnastics team. Her defining moment came at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when she clinched the gold medal for the U.S. by landing her final vault attempt on a sprained left ankle.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Michele Mitchell and Yuliana Perez.
Arkansas: Hazel Walker
An 11-time All-America AAU player, Walker played three seasons with the all-women's All-American Red Heads before starting her own barnstorming team, Hazel Walker's Arkansas Travelers. The Travelers played for 16 seasons before Walker retired at 50, with the team having won 80 percent of its games against all-male competition.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Bettye Fiscus.
California: Billie Jean King
King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, including six at Wimbledon, and 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles. She is most remembered for her 1973 thrashing of Bobby Riggs in the ''Battle of the Sexes,'' staged at the Astrodome. Founder of the Women's Sports Foundation, King has continued to be a tireless advocate for women's sports. As a tribute to her contributions, the national tennis center in Queens, N.Y., bears her name.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Michelle Akers, Shirley Babashoff, Ila Borders, Maureen Connolly, Janet Evans, Peggy Fleming, Marjorie Gestring. Florence Griffith-Joyner, Flo Hyman , Lisa Leslie, Nancy Lopez, Wendy Macpherson, Alice Marble, Pat McCormick, Ann Meyers, Cheryl Miller, Helen Wills Moody Roark, Dara Torres, Ann Trason, Donna de Varona, Venus Williams, Mickey Wright and Trischa Zorn.
Colorado: Amy Van Dyken
A six-time Olympic gold medalist, Van Dyken won four gold medals at the '96 Games, becoming the first American woman to do so. She won gold in two relays (400-meter freestyle, 400-meter medley) and two individual events (100-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle). She added two more relay gold medals in 2000.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tanya Haave, April Heinrichs and Wendy Lucero-Schayes.
Connecticut: Kristine Lilly
After helping North Carolina to four consecutive NCAA championships, Lilly went on to play for eight World Cup and Olympic soccer teams. She has scored 129 goals in her national-team career and is the only player from any country, male of female, to play in more than 300 international matches.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Glenna Collett-Vare, Lindsey Jacobellis, Joan Joyce and Nykesha Sales.
Delaware: Val Whiting-Raymond
After averaging 30.3 points and 16.1 rebounds as a high school senior, Whiting went on to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year twice and was a two-time All-America. She helped Stanford to its only NCAA women's basketball championships, in 1990 and 1992, and later played three seasons in the WNBA.<br><br> Worth of consideration: Dionna Harris, Vicki Huber and Missy Meharg.
Florida: Chris Evert
Winning 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including four straight U.S. Opens, Evert won at least one slam in 13 consecutive years (1974-86) and reached the semifinals in 52 of her 56 career Slams. After winning the French Open and Wimbledon in 1974, she remained the world's No. 1 player for much of the next five years as her rivalry with Martina Navratilova heated up.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Lisa Andersen, Sylvia Fowles.
Georgia: Louise Suggs
A co-founder of the LPGA in 1950, Suggs won 58 pro tournaments in her career, including 11 majors; the third-highest total all-time. She also became the first woman golfer to win a single tournament (the Dallas Civitan Open) in three consecutive seasons, from 1959 to 1961. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Alice Coachman, Teresa Edwards, Gwen Torrence and Wyomia Tyus.
Hawaii: Rell Sunn
A surfer since age 4, Sunn broke through gender barriers and became one of the first female professional surfers. Frustrated by discrimination, she helped found the women's professional surfing tour in 1975 and the Women's Professional Surfing Association in 1979. The "Queen of Makaha," Sunn reached the peak of her career in 1982 when she was ranked No. 1 in the world on longboard. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Reydan Ahuna, Lindsey Berg, Bethany Hamilton, Lenore Muraoka, Traci Phillips, Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, Cyn Stehouwer and Michelle Wie.
Idaho: Picabo Street
Joining the U.S. Ski Team in 1989 at 17, Picabo won two Olympic medals, including gold in the Super-G ('98) and silver in the downhill ('94). She also won three world championship medals: a silver in combined ('93), bronze in Super-G ('96) and gold in downhill ('96), the latter making her the first American to win a title in a speed event. After suffering a broken femur and torn ACL in her right knee during a crash after the '98 Games, Street spent two and a half years recovering before returning to competition. She retired in 2002.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Andrea Lloyd-Curry.
Illinois: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Considered by some to be the greatest female athlete of the 20th Century, Joyner-Kersee won six medals over the span of four Olympics, including three gold in the heptathlon and long jump. Her world record in the long jump has been broken, but she continues to hold the heptathlon world record (7,291, set in 1988). At UCLA, Joyner-Kersee was a track and basketball star who scored more than 1,000 points in her career.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Cynthia Cooper, Cammi Granato, Dorothy Hamill and Dianne Holum.
Indiana: Stephanie White-McCarty
As a high school senior in 1995, she broke Indiana's women's scoring record with 2,869 points and was named the player of the year by Gatorade and USA Today. A two-time All-America guard, she led Purdue to its only national title in 1999 and was named national and Big Ten player of the year. She played five years in the WNBA with the Charlotte Sting and Indiana Fever before becoming a coach.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: LaTaunya Pollard.
Iowa: Denise Long
Long scored 111 points in one game and averaged an eye-popping 62.8 points while leading Union-Whitten High to the state title in 1968. She poured in 218 points during her team's three-game championship run, including a playoff record 93 against Bennett. One year later, the San Francisco Warriors made her the first female ever selected in the NBA draft.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Janet Guthrie, Shawn Johnson, Lynne Lorenzen and Doreen Wilbur.
Kansas: Lynette Woodard
A four-time All-America at Kansas, Woodard was the top-scoring woman in NCAA history, averaging 26 points per game and scoring 3,649 total during her career. As team captain, she led the U.S. women to a gold medal in 1984. She later became the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Sandra Myers.
Kentucky: Mary T. Meagher
After establishing world records in the 100- and 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. Long Course National Championships in 1981, Meagher collected three gold medals at the '84 Olympics in the 100- and 200-meter fly and 4x100 medley relay.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tamara McKinney.
Louisiana: Evelyn Ashford
One of the greatest female sprinters in history, Ashford overcame injuries early in her career to become the first and only woman in U.S. track and field history to win four Olympic gold medals: in the 100 meters at the '84 Olympics and in the 4x100 relay in '84, '88 and '92.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Seimone Augustus, Alana Beard, Pamela Kelly-Flowers and Kim Mulkey.
Maine: Joan Benoit Samuelson
With the addition of the women's marathon to the Olympics in 1984, Benoit Samuelson became the event's first champion in a time of 2:24:52. She did so despite running in the warm, smoggy Los Angeles weather and having had arthroscopic knee surgery earlier that year. In 1985, she set a women's American record of 2:21:21 in the Chicago marathon that stood for 18 years. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Cindy Blodgett.
Maryland: Pam Shriver
Shriver became the youngest women's singles finalist in U.S. Open history at 16 in 1978, bowing to Chris Evert in straight sets. Shriver went on to win 20-of- 21 Grand Slam doubles titles with longtime partner Martina Navratilova. She also won a gold medal in women's doubles alongside Zina Garrison at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Dominique Dawes.
Massachusetts: Jenny Thompson
Thompson retired in 2004 as the most decorated U.S. Olympic swimmer in history, male or female. She earned 12 medals -- eight gold -- during her standout performances at the '92, '96, '00 and '04 Olympics. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tenley Albright, Pat Bradley, Susan Butcher, Kelly Amonte Hiller, Nancy Kerrigan and Rebecca Lobo.
Michigan: Serena Williams
Williams ranks among the premier players of her generation, having won 10 Grand Slam singles titles and Olympic gold in doubles in 2000 and 2008. She's the last player, male or female, to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously -- winning the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2002 and the Australian Open in 2003.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Lynn Hill, Julie Krone, Marion Ladewig and Dawn Riley.
Minnesota: Tracy Caulkins
Known for her versatility, Caulkins set five world and 63 American records during an accomplished career. She earned three gold medals at the '84 Olympics while competing in the 200-meter and 400-meter medleys and 4x100 medley relay.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Patty Berg, Cindy Nelson, Briana Scurry and Lindsey Vonn.
Mississippi: Ruthie Bolton-Holifield
USA Basketball's Female Athlete of the Year in 1991, Bolton-Holifield enjoyed an eight-year WNBA career. But she made her biggest splash on the international stage, winning gold medals in the '96 and '00 Olympics.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Jennifer Gillom, Lusia Harris-Stewart, Margaret Wade and Willye White.
Missouri: Shannon Miller
The most decorated gymnast -- male or female -- in U.S. history, Miller won five medals in 1992: bronze medals in the team competition, uneven bars and floor exercise, and silver medals in the all-around and balance beam. At the 1996 Atlanta Games she was one of the gold-medal winning Magnificent Seven. Despite wrist and hamstring injuries, she also won an individual gold in the balance beam, the first for a female American gymnast at a non-boycotted Olympics.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Amy Alcott, Candice Parker, Judy Rankin and Helen Stephens.
Montana: Alice Greenough
The nation's first rodeo queen won three national titles in the 1930s and '40s and was the first inductee into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in '75. She was enshrined in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame eight years later. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Shannon Cate, Alice Ritzman and Val Skinner.
Nebraska: Allison Weston
The first female selected for the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame, Weston was the Nebraska Cornhuskers first three-time, first-team All-American and helped the U.S. to the bronze medal match at the Sydney Olympics. One of the greatest collegiate outside hitters of all-time, she was named co-National Player of the year in 1995. As a Nebraska prep star, she was two-time Super State in volleyball and basketball, All-State in soccer and qualified for the state track meet..<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Carol Moseke Frost, Louise Pond, Julie Vollertsen.
Nevada: Marion Jones Farquhar
Farquhar was the first woman to compete in Wimbledon, entering the tournament in 1900 and advancing to the quarterfinals. She won the singles title at the U.S. Championships in 1899 and 1902, and was inducted into the USTA Hall of Fame (1968) and International Tennis Hall of Fame (2006).<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Sheila Tarr-Smith.
New Hampshire: Jane Blalock
After earning the LPGA Rookie of the Year award in 1969, Blalock quickly became one of the most dominant golfers -- male or female -- in the pros, though she never earned a major championship. By her last win in 1985, she had won a tour-record 27 tournaments and amassed $1,290,944 in career earnings.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tricia Dunn, Katie King and Liz McIntyre.
New Jersey: Mary Decker Slaney
She set American records in every middle and long distance event on the books -- the 800, 1,500, mile, 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000. She won the 1983 World Distance Championships in the 1,500 and 3,000. After qualifying for her first Olympics at 21, she went on to qualify for three more teams. She is perhaps best known for her failures on the Olympic stage, including a fall at the '84 Games that sent her onto the infield writhing in pain during the 3,000-meter race she was heavily favored to win.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Carol Blazejowski, Anne Donovan, Lynn Jennings and Carin Jennings-Gabarra.
New Mexico: Catherine Carr
In the '72 Munich Olympics that were supposed to be dominated by Russian superstar Galina Prozumenshikova, Carr took gold in the 100-meter breaststroke and 4x100-meter medley relay, breaking the world record in both. She was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1998.
New York: Bonnie Blair
With five gold medals and one bronze in speedskating, Blair is one of the most decorated female Olympians of all time. She was the first American to win consecutive golds in three Olympics and the first to win five gold medals.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Gertrude Ederle, Lisa Fernandez, Nancy Lieberman, Jeannette Lee, Shirley Muldowney and Abby Wambach.
North Carolina: Prince Nufer Dixon
Dixon's career began with her topping the boys at her high school and would finish with her becoming America's most dominant female swimmer in the 1930s and '40s. She set the world record in the 50-meter backstroke in 1941, but her career was dampened by an automobile accident and the cancellation of Olympics during World War II. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Kathy McMillan, Shea Ralph, Julie Shea and Charlotte Smith-Taylor
North Dakota: Pat Smykowski
Smykowski earned All-America honors while setting North Dakota State career records for points, three-pointers and assists during a career that spanned from 1985 to '89. Known as one of the most entertaining players in Bisons' history, she earned a spot on the 1986 NCAA all-tournament team. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Kami Anderson, Janelle Bakken, Tanya Fischer and Sheri Kleinsasser
Ohio: Dorothy Kamenshek
Perhaps best known as the quick-thinking Dottie Hinson, played by Geena Davis in the 1992 movie "A League of Their Own," Kamenshek was 17 when a scout from the All-American Girls Baseball League persuaded her to play. Though her cinematic alter-ego quit after a season, the real-life pioneer was a star of the Rockford Peaches from 1943 to '51 and then again in 1953, leading her team to four league championships. Called "the fanciest-fielding first-baseman I've ever seen, man or woman" by Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp, Kamenshek was named to seven all-star teams before retiring after the 1953 season.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Katie Smith and Lyn St. James.
Robinson was a nine-year fixture in the WNBA before becoming an assistant coach of the Washington Mystics. At Southeast Oklahoma State, she still holds the records for points, rebounds, assists and steals.
Oregon: Margaret Osborne duPont
A unstoppable tennis force, she racked up 37 Grand Slam titles, including six singles titles, three of which came in consecutive U.S. Opens. She interrupted her career to give birth to a son, yet returned to the court afterward to become one of the few women of her era to win a major title following childbirth.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Tonya Harding, Carol Menken-Schaudt, Kim Peyton and Katy Steding.
Pennsylvania: Betsy King
An LPGA Tour player beginning in 1977, King racked up an astounding six major championships and 34 victories. In 1984 alone, she won three titles, finished in the top 10 an amazing 21 times and was named LPGA Tour Player of the Year. She continued her dominant streak through 1989 for a total of 21 victories in the five-year span -- the most of any golfer, male or female, during that time. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Anita DeFrantz, Suzie McConnell Serio and Dawn Staley.
Rhode Island: Aileen Riggin Soule
At 4-foot-7 and 65 pounds, Soule became not only the youngest (14) and smallest American to win an Olympic gold medal when she won the 3-meter springboard event in 1920, but also the first to bring home medals in both swimming and diving (silver in the three-meter springboard and bronze in the 100-meter backstroke) in 1924. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Wilma Briggs, Melissa Fiorentino and Hannah Swett.
South Carolina: Althea Gibson
A champion, a pioneer and a legend, Gibson, born in Silver, became the first African-American woman on the world tennis tour when she entered the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills in 1950. After winning the French Championships in '56, Gibson returned to Forest Hills the following year, where she won her first of back-to-back titles at the tournament. She also won consecutive titles at Wimbledon those same years to earn a No. 1 ranking. Winning a total of 11 Grand Slam events, Gibson is now in the International Tennis and Women's Sports Halls of Fame.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Beth Daniel, Katrina McClain-Johnson and Betsy Rawls
South Dakota: Marlene Hagge
As one of the LPGA's 13 founders, Hagge, who played with the name Marlene Bauer before marriage, became the youngest to make the cut for the U.S. Women's Open at age 13. She won a staggering 26 titles from 1952 to 1972.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Becky Hammon
Tennessee: Wilma Rudolph
Dubbed the "fastest woman on earth," Rudolph was a pioneer in elevating the status of women's track and field in America. She was a multi-sport phenom (basketball and track); the first American woman to win three gold medals at the Olympics (she won the 100- and 200-meter dashes and was a part of the U.S. 400-meter relay team in 1960); a world record-holder in two events (200-meter and with the relay team); and she accomplished all of it after overcoming polio as a child.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Nikki McCray and Nera White
Texas: Babe Didrikson Zaharias
Zaharias was the original renaissance woman: a three-medal Olympian in track and field (at the 1932 Games, she won gold in the 80-meter hurdles and javelin and earned bronze in the high jump); an All-America basketball player; America's first female golf celebrity, having won every golf title out there; an expert in diving, swimming, volleyball, bowling, boxing, handball, billiards, skating, cycling and even singing.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Cat Osterman, Sheryl Swoopes and Kathy Whitworth.
Utah: Jan Bucher
An ice skater turned Hall of Fame skier, Bucher, a Salt Lake City native, amassed 57 World Cup victories in freestyle skiing's ballet event, while earning the Cup title four times. Adding to her dominant resume, she was also a three-time U.S. Champion (1988, '89, '91), a silver-medalist at the 1988 Winter Olympics and the '89 World Champion. <br><br>Worthy of consideration: Denise Parker
Vermont: Andrea Mead-Lawrence
Having grown up in a family of skiers that owned one of the first commercial ski resorts in Vermont, Mead-Lawrence had skiing in her blood. And, at the 1952 Games, it showed when she became the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom.<br><br> Worthy of consideration: Barbara Ann Cochran and Patty Sheehan
Virginia: Benita Fitzgerald-Mosley
Fitzgerald, a two-time U.S. Olympian in track and field (1980 and 1984), won the gold medal in the 100-meter hurdles in '84 to become just the second American woman to win the event. A gold medalist at the 1983 Pan-American Games, she was also a three-time 100-meter hurdles champ and 15-time All-America while at Tennessee.
Washington, D.C.: Melissa Belote Ripley
Sixteen at the 1972 Games in Munich, Ripley won three golds (100- and 200-meter backstroke, one with the relay team), setting a world record in the 200 and an Olympic record in the 100.
Washington: Gail Devers
Despite experiencing health problems and later being diagnosed with Graves' disease, the Seattle-born Devers eventually became a three-time Olympic gold medalist, winning the 100 in 1992 and the 100 and 4x100 meter relay in 1996.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Gretchen Fraser and Doris Brown Heritage
West Virginia: Mary Lou Retton
Despite being born with hip dysplasia and suffering from arthritis throughout her career, Mary Lou Retton was the first female gymnast outside of Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title, doing so in 1984. She also won four additional medals in the same Olympics, including a silver in team competition and the horse, and bronze in the floor exercise and uneven bars. For her Olympic performance, she was named Sports Illustrated's "Sportswoman of the Year" and also was the first female to grace a Wheaties box.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Vicky Bullett, Christy Martin and Mary Ostrowski
Wisconsin: Helene Madison
At one point she held all 16 freestyle swimming world records and 56 U.S. records. She was the only athlete to win three gold medals at the 1932 Olympics, finishing first in the 100-meter free, 400 free and 4x100 free relay.<br><br>Worthy of consideration: Connie Carpenter-Phinney, Jean Driscoll, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Beth Heiden, Wendy Boglioli, Chellsie Memmel, Danica Patrick and Chris Witty.
Wyoming: Karen Budge
After winning the women's combined title at 1967 national alpine championship, Budge won the North American women's championship in 1971. As a member of the U.S. Ski Team in the '68 and '72 Olympics, Budge was ranked among the world's best for slalom, giant slalom and downhill.