It's a tough world for female athletes. They have to prove themselves worthy of athlete status in order to be noticed by mainstream media and only an elite few ever get there. Some make it because they are beautiful, some make it because they are talented and even more make it because they are a whole lot of both. Then, there are a few that exhibit those characteristics and one more. The enviable ability to not give a s**t what anybody thinks about their performance on and off the field, so to speak. Here are a few athletes that have been faced with some pretty insurmountable circumstances. Strangely enough, it was their ability to not care about their challenges, that gave them the ability to triumph.
14 Lindsey Vonn
The Olympic athlete has suffered some serious personal and physical injuries in these last few years. Her marriage ended, she blew out her knee in a cringeworthy fall during a competition and after almost three years the model athlete ended her relationship with Tiger Woods. When Vonn wasn't racing down ski hills at crazy speeds she was dating a notoriously sketchy, albeit phenomenal, athlete. The tall blonde and beautiful skier probably much prefers the dangers of the hill rather than other pro athletes.
13 Danica Patrick
If you've ever seen NASCAR live you'll know that watching this sport on television doesn't offer the same rush of excitement as watching cars travel around the track at speeds topping 200 mph. Throw in a rockstar like Patrick who tops the scales at 100lbs, at just 5'3'', and color you impressed. Furthermore, Danica Patrick takes a lot of heat for being a female in a hugely male dominated sport. We're guessing Patrick worries little about the haters when she's counting her money from her many endorsements.
12 Martina Navratilova
This trailblazer is not only one of the first super athletes to be openly gay, she also holds the record for most tennis championships ever won, male or female. In other words, she ruled the tennis world in the 70's and 80's and no one has dethroned her. The Czech born tennis pro doesn't care if you think women aren't as good as men because she knows different. She knows she paved the way for gay women in sport and she also knows she kicked some major butt for her entire career.
11 Bethany Hamilton
Are you kidding? This girl rules. Not only was she a surfing phenom at the tender age of 13, but she lost her arm in a tragic and terrifying shark attack while surfing at home in Hawaii. Now, the young girl could have hidden away and become a cautionary tale meant to terrify children from entering the ocean but instead she clearly didn't give a care when she decided to be the poster child for surviving a shark attack and continues to surf and inspire millions. She just got married and gave birth so it would be interesting to know what she finds more terrifying: sharks or midnight feedings.
10 Kelly Cartwright
The girl rules beyond imagination. She lost her leg due to cancer at fifteen and still went on to become a successful Paralympic athlete, winning multiple medals and securing her spot as one of Australia's greatest athletes. Sure, you won't see her name on ESPN's list of athletes to watch (yet) but she certainly put Cancer in its place when she decided she didn't give a heck about losing a leg because she was still going to run track like a fierce competitor.
9 Laila Ali
Can you say 'undefeated'. This girl owned her last name. The daughter of the greatest boxer of all time could have relented to haters but instead she fought and won, again and again and again. Those bouts equaled 24-0 and established Ali as a champion. She also was recently filmed by TMZ as claiming she could beat MMA champ Ronda Rousey. If you're willing to call out a woman who breaks people's arms for a living then you truly don't give a sh*t.
8 Maria Sharapova
You know how female athletes always get more press if they are drop dead gorgeous. They don't even have to be that good. We're talking to you, Anna Kournikova. What if there was an athlete that was drop dead gorgeous and a superior talent in her field? Well, then you would have Maria Sharapova. As you can see from her photo she cares little about her good looks and more about her killer game. This girl has won championship after championship and the media is forced to talk more about her talent than her looks and that's a rare thing indeed.
7 Michelle Jenneke
Jenneke, another talented Aussie gained more than a little attention when folks saw her not fierce attitude while she enjoyed herself before the race she would ultimately win. This girl just garnered a ton of attention and even more endorsements because her cavalier attitude made her even more awesome than the super athlete she had already become.
6 Amanda Beard
Drugs, Playboy and insane talent combined to create the legend that is Amanda Beard. Sure, she might be a little more famous for her Playboy spread than her swimming career but true to our list's theme, she doesn't care. She's young, beautiful, talented and rich so while people gripe about her actions hurting women in sport she's relaxing in her luxurious home and modelling to pay the bills. It's a life that doesn't suck and Ms. Beard has nothing to prove to anyone of us.
5 Dara Torres
At the ripe old age of 41 (for an athlete, anyway) Dara Torres swam in the 2008 Bejing Olympics and took home three silver medals shocking the world. Clearly age is just a number to Torres who competed against athletes less than half her age. It was a heart-warming and a heart-breaking performance when the swimmer lost the gold by 1/100 of a second but clearly, the mom and veteran of five Olympics wasn't going let a silly old thing like her age stop her from make history.
4 Hope Solo
Widely regarded as the greatest female goalkeeper of all time, Solo has been in more than her share of hot water recently. Arrested for suspicion of domestic violence after a family gathering that went seriously wrong, Solo would be crucified in the media. Having been in the news perviously for a domestic violence accusation involving her former finance, the soccer star was given little benefit of the doubt. Clearly though, the soccer star is doing just fine after winning the 2015 World Cup in Canada.
3 Billie Jean King
It's a throwback yes, but the great American tennis player broke down barriers for women everywhere when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the 'Battle of the Sexes' in 1973. King was tireless about promoting the females right to rule on the court and she didn't care who was watching (unless it was the fifty million viewers estimated to have been watching that match). King might have been one of the very first female athletes to not care (publicly) about perceived gender roles and stereotypes.
2 Venus & Serena Williams
After shouting at the umpire during the 2011 US Open Final, Serena Williams cemented her reputation as a hot head. She and her sister Venus simply don't care what you think and they've made that clear by tearing up the court in their own untamed designs that stray far from Wimbledon white. These athletes have stood out for more than just amazing tennis; the superstar siblings are probably the winningest pro female athletes on the planet and once more, they don't do any of it to impress you.
1 Ronda Rousey
There's no doubt Rousey is a force, having never taken more than two minutes to finish off an opponent during her amateur career and ending one of her most recent professional matches in fourteen seconds with an arm bar. The MMA star is currently being touted as the biggest star in the sport today. The athlete stated in a recent Rolling Stone interview: "I'm gonna talk a bunch of sh*t. And I'm gonna break of couple of girl's arms, and I'm not gonna feel the least bit sorry about it." Is this attitude the secret to her success?