40 greatest female athletes: Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach has a fearless mentality that has produced big wins at every level. Robert Michael/AFP/Getty Images

ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

Even as a 16-year-old, Abby Wambach seemed destined for stardom.

"You could see the qualities we all know today," says April Heinrichs, who coached Wambach on a junior national team before taking over the U.S. senior national team from 2000 to 2005. "She was great in the air, and she was a winner."

Today, the soccer star, who is No. 33 in the ESPN countdown, has scored 134 goals for Team USA, second all-time on the international stage, behind Mia Hamm's 158.

But what really has set Wambach apart over the years is how she elevates her game at crunch time.

"I've never seen her intimidated by anyone," Heinrichs says, "or by any challenge."

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:

No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia

No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone

No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton

No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato

No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly

No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi

No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman