40 greatest female athletes: Cammi Granato

Cammi Granato, who grew up in Downers Grove, Ill., inspired the next generation of girls' hockey players. Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images

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

In 1990, just 6,000 girls were registered with USA Hockey. Today, there are more than 62,000.

Much of the credit goes to Cammi Granato, the No. 37 player in ESPN's countdown, who led the underdog United States to a 3-1 win over Canada in the 1998 Winter Olympics in women's ice hockey's debut at the Games. Granato ended up on a Wheaties box, wrote her first book and began broadcasting games for the NHL.

"She was the face of the sport when the game burst onto the international scene," says USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean. "There wasn't a lot of women's hockey in this country pre-Cammi. She can take credit for so much."

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