40 greatest female athletes: Lisa Fernandez

Lisa Fernandez, now an assistant coach at UCLA, was a Team USA softball hero for years. Dustin Snipes/Icon SMI

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

Softball player Lisa Fernandez certainly posted some impressive numbers: Three Olympic gold medals with Team USA, two national championships at UCLA, a 93-7 college record that included 74 shutouts and 11 no-hitters and three national player of the year awards.

But what's even more impressive is how the No. 18 player in ESPN's countdown did it.

"There was no player who worked harder than Lisa Fernandez," says Sue Enquist, her former coach at UCLA. "She will be the first one to tell you she wasn't granted huge gifts. But she had will and work ethic and stamina -- and a mental toughness unlike any I've ever seen in another player."

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

No. 33: Soccer player Abby Wambach

No. 32: Swimmer Mary T. Meagher

No. 31: Marathoner Joan Benoit

No. 30: Sprinter Gail Devers

No. 29: Basketball player Nancy Lieberman

No. 28: Marathoner Grete Waitz

No. 27: Soccer player Michelle Akers

No. 26: Basketball player Chamique Holdsclaw

No. 25: Swimmer Dara Torres

No. 24: Golfer Nancy Lopez

No. 23: Swimmer Tracy Caulkins

No. 22: Soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva

No. 21: Tennis player Venus Williams

No. 20: Figure skater Michelle Kwan

No. 19: Skier Lindsey Vonn