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Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Readers' list: Classic sexiest athletes

From the Page 2 mailbag

ESPN is trying to determine the World's Sexiest Athletes, Page 2 wanted to see who you believed were the sexiest athletes from the past.

Here's how Page 2 editors ranked the top 10 sexiest athletes who are retired:

1. Katarina Witt
2. Gabriela Sabatini
3. Muhammad Ali
4. Laura Baugh
5. Jim Palmer
6. Florence Griffith Joyner
7. Gabrielle Reece
8. Julius Erving
9. Wilt Chamberlain
10. Anne White

Honorable mention: Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Joe Namath, Jean-Claude Killy, Chris Evert, Sonja Henie

Earlier this week, Page 2 offered our list of the 10 sexiest athletes of all-time with the stipulation that they be retired. Unfortunately, this ruled out all you Anna Kournikova fans but also the many admirers of pinup golfer Jan Stephenson who is still an active player on the LPGA Tour.

After asking for your choices, we received nearly 400 letters offering nominees. Check out our readers' top 10 below, and then vote in the poll at right to crown the No. 1 sexiest athlete of all-time.

1. Katarina Witt (40 letters)
The only true "woman" ever to take the ice. All of these prissy little toothpicks pale in comparison to her. She was (and still is) the only figure skater to keep me glued to the TV during her routines.

I've since learned to keep my enamor of the great Ms. Witt a bit less obvious since the Playboy issue with Katarina was conveniently misplaced by the wife during spring cleaning.
Katarina Witt
Katarina Witt combined beauty, athleticism, charisma and style.
Jack Ott

I can't even express the sexiness of Katarina Witt in spoken word ... it comes out as a gurgling noise from the back of my throat.

How can you deny this honor to a woman who specializes in lifting her leg above her head and doing things with names like "the triple lutz"? Mmmhmm.
Helena, Mont.

Katarina Witt wins easily.

Did you see that handstand in Playboy? Who knew she was a two-sport threat?

Katarina Witt is the only acceptable use of an ice rink not involving a hockey puck.
Gabriela Sabatini
Gabriela Sabatini, sort of a Kournikova with talent.
Jeffrey Cook II

2. Gabriela Sabatini (27 votes)
I had no idea what deuce or a tie-breaker was; but I still would watch a match when she played.
Aurora, Colo.

I am not a big tennis fan but if there was a chance that she would be playing on TV, I'd watch. I never knew where she was ranked and didn't care. Just watching her was the plan.

She was Anna Kournikova with talent.
Dave Wheeler
Grand Forks, N.D.

3. Steffi Graf (19 votes)
How could you leave off the finest pair of legs to ever grace the hard courts of U.S. Open? Steffi Graf has to be in any discussion of the all-time sexiest athletes.
Steffi Graf
Steffi Graf drew admirers for more than just phenomenal tennis.
Cody Wagner

I would watch tennis just to see her run around the court. Andre Agassi is one lucky man.
Kelly McBride
Jacksonville, Ill.

4. Chris Evert (14 votes)
Chris Evert without a doubt was, and is the hottest female athlete of years past. I think I started puberty while watching her stretch for a backhand.

By the way, I don't have a girl's name ... she has a guy's name.
Chris P.
Eldon, Mo.

Definitely Chris Evert. She has that soccer-mom kind of sexiness.

Growing up, if she were one of my friends' moms, I would have been glad to ask her to the prom. That, plus the little white tennis skirts drove me nuts.
Mike Board
Tucson, Ariz.

Gabrielle Reece
Gabrielle Reece balanced volleyball and modeling.
5. Gabrielle Reece (12 votes)
It is nice to see a tall, athletic and attractive woman who is actually good at the sport she plays. The Playboy pics didn't hurt her stock either.
Justin Sandmann
Morgan, Minn.

In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson: "Mmm .. .Gabrielle Reece ..."
Pat Cartwright
Columbus, Ohio

6. (tie) Summer Sanders (seven letters)
Summer Sanders -- five gold medals as an Olympic swimmer. Why else did anyone watch MTV's "Sandblast" and Nickelodeon's "Figure it Out"?
Viral Gandhi
Carling Bassett
Carling Bassett was named after the Carling brewery her father once owned.
Williamstown, Mass.

6. (tie) Carling Bassett (seven letters)
Carling Bassett may not have been a great tennis player, but she was a darn sexy one. Good-looking, and her father owned a brewery! C'mon! What more do you want?

8. (tie) Tonya Harding (five letters)
Beat me, whip me, make me write bad checks.
Paul Hill
East Lyme, Conn.

8. (tie) Manon Rheaume (five letters)
Manon Rheaume
Manon Rheaume played in the minor leagues and with the Canadian women's team after her NHL exhibition game.
I remember when it was announced that the NHL's first female goaltender would be appearing on David Letterman that night, I decided I had to watch to see what a beast this woman must be to be able to hang with Tampa Bay players such as Basil McRae, Anatoli Semenov and coach Terry Crisp. My jaw has never hit the ground harder than when Manon walked out of shadows to sit next to Dave. I don't think I understood a word she said (being French-Canadian she didn't speak English very well), but I didn't even notice.
Ken Myers
Harrisburg, Pa.

10. Joe Namath (three letters)
Joe Namath -- why my mom is a football fan and how I ended up being born a Jets fan.
Ian Seely
Rahway, N.J.

Honorable mention
  • Steve Garvey
  • Mike Piazza
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Tony Siragusa
  • Steve Prefontaine
  • Larry Bird
  • Dave Parker
  • Tom & Dick Van Arsdale
  • Mary Lou Retton
  • Florence Griffith Joyner
  • Peggy Fleming
  • Dorothy Hamill
  • Janet Evans