Every year, the world is captivated by the success and backstories of phenomenal female athletes.
In every sport, there are women who are constantly setting records, breaking barriers and chipping away at the glass ceiling.
Through the power of social media, women’s sport has never been more widely followed.
But who are the women at the forefront of social media? Which athletes are the most influential both in and out of their respective sports?
According to fourfive, here are the ten sportswomen with the greatest influence around the world in 2022. The list is compiled based on the amount of social media followers — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok — and Wikipedia page views combined.
10. Alisha Lehmann — Football (11.4m)
The only Women’s Super League footballer on this list is Alisha Lehmann and it’s not at all surprising why.
As well as being a speedster on the pitch, the Aston Villa star has established herself as a social media personality, particularly on Instagram and TikTok.
Lehmann has a combined social media following of 11 million and the rest has come through clicks on her Wikipedia page.
9. Naomi Osaka — Tennis (11.6m)
Naomi Osaka is not just an excellent tennis player, but a smart businesswoman and an individual who is not afraid to speak up for what she believes in.
The Japanese star has won four Grand Slams in her career so far and she is one of the most marketable athletes in the world.
Osaka is sponsored by Nike and has endorsement deals with the likes of Nissan and Louis Vuitton. She also had her own Barbie doll created and recently collaborated with Fortnite to introduce a playable Osaka character.
The 24-year-old has a total of five million social media followers and 6.6 million Wikipedia clicks in the last year.
8. P. V. Sindhi — Badminton (12.1m)
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is regarded as one of India’s most successful athletes. She made history by becoming the first and only Indian to be crowned Badminton World Champion and the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals.
As well as her glittering badminton career, Sindhu often speaks out on the importance of clean and honest games and she has openly supported the #MeToo movement.
In 2021, Sindhu was listed by Forbes as one of the highest-paid female athletes. The last 12 months saw her social media following rise to 9.2 million and 2.9 million people viewed her Wiki page.
7. Crissa Jackson — Basketball (14.5m)
As well as being a basketball player, Crissa Jackson has made a huge name for herself on social media.
The vast majority of her following comes from TikTok, where she has established herself as a verified and extremely popular figure.
Jackson has 13.3 million TikTok followers and 1 million on Instagram. The fact that she is seventh on this list without even having a Wikipedia page speaks volumes about the influence she has in the social media world.
The American trailblazer is also an actress, comedian, and model. She has worked with brands including Beats by Dre, Amazon Music, and Reebok.
6. Simone Biles — Gymnastics (16.9m)
Simone Biles is a national treasure for reasons beyond her ability to compete at the highest possible level.
While she has established herself as arguably the greatest gymnast of all time with a combined 32 Olympic and World Championship medals, her presence outside of the arena has also made her one of the world’s most influential athletes.
During the Tokyo Olympics, Biles withdrew from several events due to mental health issues. This was something she spoke openly about and encouraged others to speak out and get help, while reminding them it is okay not to be okay.
The 24-year-old has a combined 10.3 million followers across her social media platforms and received 6.6 million hits on her Wiki page in the last year.
5. Sania Mirza — Tennis (19.9m)
From 2003 until her retirement from singles competition in 2013, Sania Mirza was India’s number one female player. She is her country’s highest ranked woman ever.
She was most successful at doubles level, where she won six Grand Slams. With a total of 43 career titles, Mirza has won more doubles tournaments than any other active player on the WTA tour.
Mirza was named one of the “50 Heroes of Asia” by TIME in 2005, as well as making the magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
The Indian icon’s Wikipedia page brought in 1.2 million views in the last year and she boasts 18.8 million followers on socials.
4. Alex Morgan — Football (20.7m)
The most influential women’s football player statistically is USA’s Alex Morgan.
Often discussed in talks regarding the most elite footballers right now, Morgan has established herself as the most followed player in the world.
With two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal at international level, plus her involvement in rallying for equal pay, it’s easy to see why Morgan is top of the ranks.
In 2019, she was named one of TIME’s Most Influential People — this is reflected in her whopping 19.8 million-strong social media following.
3. Maria Sharapova — Tennis (29.7m)
Although she may be retired, Maria Sharapova is still a prominent figure in tennis.
The former five-time world number one is one of just ten women in history to achieve the ‘career Grand Slam’ — a title win in each of the four major tennis championships. She is also the only Russian player, male or female, to do so.
Sharapova remains in the public eye and she is still one of the most influential tennis personalities in the world. Her 28 million social media followers speak for themselves.
2. Ronda Rousey — UFC/WWE (36.7m)
Ronda Rousey’s highly speculated return to WWE will have undoubtedly gained her a lot of online traction. Wrestling fans will have been desperate to find out when she was scheduled to make her comeback and what is planned for her moving forward.
But aside from the huge news, Rousey is one of the most successful combat sports stars in the world.
The versatile fighter was the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in judo and she became the first female fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame after a decorated career.
Rousey has a grand total of 34.4 million social media followers and received 2.3 million Wikipedia clicks in the last year.
1. Serena Williams — Tennis (38.7m)
Serena Williams is widely considered one of the greatest tennis players, and indeed female athletes, of all time.
Her reign feels like it has been ever-present. With an astonishing 23 Grand Slam titles, she remains one of the most discussed tennis players of recent years, even though her last major title came in 2017.
Williams is also known for championing the push for equal pay and has sparked conversation over important issues alongside the likes of Osaka and Biles.
The queen of the court will remain one of tennis’ leading icons for years to come. Although she is nearing retirement, she still tops this list as the most influential sportswoman of 2022 with an unrivalled 33 million social media followers and 5.7 million Wikipedia clicks in the last 12 months.