Athletes have one of the best and most difficult lives in the world. They had to juggle their professional, public, and private lives with the media lurking around. It’s not easy being an athlete, and it’s even harder for a woman because they are usually judged by their looks rather than skills. Times have changed, and more and more female athletes have gained the respect of people in their respective sports.
But what’s harder for women is they have to deal with more problems during their careers like choosing between careers or trying to start a family. That is why most female athletes retire at a young age to focus on business ventures and their own families. And when all of those things are done, female athletes then have to face the reality of aging. Every person is different when they age, with some people finding the fountain of youth while others have difficulty finding it.
While some female athletes like Dara Torres, who is in her 50s, and Chris Evert, who is in her 60s, are in great shape, there are some of their fellow women’s athletes who have difficulty in maintaining their figure and looks. It might be in their genes or they might have gone through something, and it’s hard for some to keep it together. Tonya Harding is a great example, but she has been in a freefall since her 1994 controversy with Nancy Kerrigan. Meanwhile, former tennis phenom, Jennifer Capriati, had been battling substance abuse and depression throughout her adult life.
Here are eight athletes who are aging gracefully and seven who are not.
15 Graceful: Gabrielle Reece
Volleyball might not be the most popular sport in the world, but Gabrielle Reece became famous for playing it. Reece was the star of the Beach Volleyball World Championships and 4-person Women's Beach Volleyball League in the late 90s and early 2000s. She even trained to become a golfer and enter the LPGA, but she was unsuccessful. However, Reece was even more famous for her 6-foot-3 frame, stunning looks, and amazing body, leading to a successful modelling career.
Reece appeared in several magazines like Elle, Life, Outside, Shape, and Women’s Sports & Fitness. She also had a very successful career in television, hosting shows on ESPN, NBC, and MTV Sports. At the age of 47 years old, Reece still has it and she looks stunning. Add the fact that she has two daughters and it’s just amazing how she’s beating aging with grace.
14 Didn't: Brandi Chastain
One of the greatest women’s soccer players of all time, Brandi Chastain had one of the most memorable celebrations in sports’ history. At the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final in California, Chastain celebrated scoring the fifth goal in the penalty shootout to give the United States the win by removing her jersey, whipping it like a mad-woman before falling to her knees, clenching her fists and flexing arms.
Chastain is now 49 years old and she can’t seem to beat aging like the other women on this list. Don’t get me wrong, she is still looking good for her age but she could have faired better since women older than her who made this list look more amazing. Whether it might be genetics or the lack of effort, Chastain still has her iconic celebration that is going to live forever.
13 Graceful: Laila Ali
The youngest athlete on this list, Laila Ali is the daughter of legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali. Laila was also a successful boxer like her dad, compiling an impressive record of 24 wins, no defeats and no draws with 21 wins via knockout. She retired in 2007 as a multi-time super middleweight and light heavyweight champion. Ali looks amazing at 39 years old and she seems to have stopped aging.
Now a mother of two with her second husband, Curtis Conway, Ali stuns every time she makes an appearance in public. Given that she made a living by getting hit in the face and vice versa, it’s great that she retired early to avoid further damage to her face and brain. Ali has also hosted several TV shows and competed in many reality competitions.
12 Didn't: Jacqueline Moore
Making her name in the WWE, Jacqueline was a two-time women’s champion and a one-time cruiserweight champion. She also appeared for WCW in between her WWE stint in the 1990s, and she was with TNA Wrestling for about nine years. Jacqueline also had stints with other smaller promotions like Independent Association of Wrestling before returning to the WWE in 2016 and be inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame.
Jacqueline was successful in the WWE because of her looks, but age has caught up with her. She’s now 53 years old and her good looks are fading fast. Years of wrestling might have taken its toll, but she will always be one of the pioneers of the modern women’s wrestling. Jacqueline is the first African American woman to win the WWE women’s championship and the only woman to hold the cruiserweight championship in WWE history.
11 Graceful: Chris Evert
People might not know this, but tennis legend and 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert is already 62 years old! Evert is the oldest woman on this list, but it does not matter. She looks unbelievably stunning for her age, the role model for female athletes who want to age with grace. Evert found a way to beat aging and she should share her secrets.
Evert has been married and divorced three times, and the stress of it has not affected her looks. She is the mother of three sons born in 1991, 1994, and 1996, respectively, from her marriage to second husband, Andy Mill. Evert is currently operating a tennis academy in Florida while also having a gig with ESPN during Grand Slam tournaments as a commentator.
10 Didn't: Steffi Graf
Another tennis legend, Steffi Graf is a 22-time Grand Slam champion. She is considered as one of the greatest women’s tennis players in history. Graf is also the only player in the sport’s history to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in 1988. She also won an Olympic gold medal in that year in Seoul, South Korea.
Graf looks the same age as Chris Evert, and it’s not a good compliment since Evert, as stunning as she is at the moment, is already 62 years old. Graf is only 48 years old and she could have done something better to prevent her looks from aging rapidly. Her husband and fellow tennis legend, Andre Agassi, who is 47 years old, can give her some tips on how to combat Father Time.
9 Graceful: Summer Sanders
A two-time Olympic gold medalist for swimming, Summer Sanders looks great as if it was still the 1990s. Sanders also has the secrets to aging and she’s also maintaining her amazing body. Swimming has been her life and she is using it to keep her body in shape. Sanders won two gold medals in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, one in the 200-meter butterfly and one in the 100-meter medley relay.
The 45-year-old beauty also won a silver and bronze medal in the same Olympics in the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley, respectively. Besides swimming, Sanders is also a successful host for many different sports shows. Working on television probably helps her stay motivated to maintain her looks and shape. She recently appeared as a game show host for HLN.
8 Didn't: Carlene "Jazz" Moore-Begnaud
More famously known as Jazz, Carlene Moore-Begnaud is a two-time WWE women’s champion. Jazz had two stints in the WWE, but her first run is more successful. She made her name in ECW in the late 1990s before signing with the WWE in 2001. In her first run, Jazz won the women’s championship twice and she had memorable feuds with Victoria and Trish Stratus.
The 44-year-old was a charismatic superstar and she still has that quality in the independent circuit. However, Jazz does not have the same look and build she had in her years, and she looks older for her age. The rigorous nature of wrestling might have taken its toll on Jazz, but she is still happily married to former WWE superstar, Rodney Mack. The couple has twin daughters together.
7 Graceful: Regina Halmich
One of the greatest female boxers ever, Regina Halmich was instrumental in the rise of female boxing in terms of popularity in Europe. Halmich retired ten years ago with a very impressive record of 54 victories, one loss, and one draw. She has won titles in the light flyweight, flyweight, and super flyweight divisions during her illustrious career.
At the age of 40 years old, the German boxer looks amazing even after years of getting her face punched for a living. Besides boxing, Halmich is also a successful model in Germany, posing for local magazines and websites. She even has her own cosmetic line and it’s not a surprise that she is still absolutely stunning to look at. Halmich stays in shape that she could easily come out of retirement and put on a show.
6 Didn't: Tammy "Sunny" Sytch
Many wrestling fans fantasized about Sunny, one of the very first divas in WWE history. Not known for her wrestling ability, Sunny was stunningly beautiful during her heyday, and at one point, she was the most downloaded woman of the year in 1996 back when the internet was as slow as a turtle. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 for her contributions to the industry.
But fast forward to the present, where Sunny has gained weight and she had a lot of legal troubles in the past several years. She has had substance and alcohol abuse problems throughout her life, and she even served 114 days in jail after getting arrested for the sixth time. And to make matters worse or good for her fans, Sunny starred in her own "film" last year.
5 Graceful: Torrie Wilson
The complete opposite of Sunny nowadays, Torrie Wilson still looks amazing at the age of 42 years old. Her looks have not changed and she might be even more beautiful now. Wilson started with WCW, but she gained more popularity during her time with the WWE from 2001 to 2009. She was on the cover of Playboy magazine twice during her WWE career and she should consider posing again.
After her four-year relationship with New York Yankees legend Alex Rodriguez ended in 2015, Wilson gained more attention as a web-based fitness instructor and blogger. She is probably in the best shape of her life and she’s helping others to lose weight and stay fit. Just looking at her pictures might be enough for some to sign up for her fitness program.
4 Didn't: Jennifer Capriati
Another tennis player on this list, Jennifer Capriati is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. A former World No. 1, she won three Grand Slam titles during her career, as well as a gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Capriati had really good looks and physique during her wonderteen years, but it’s all in the past now. She had so much going for her in her early years and she could not handle it all.
The 41-year-old has been battling depression and substance abuse throughout her adult life. Capriati attempted a comeback in 2015, but a shoulder injury forced her training to stop. It was followed by the death of her father, Stefano, and it was all downhill from there. Capriati barely attends any tournaments and she has gained weight. She’s reportedly living a very private life in Florida.
3 Graceful: Gabriela Sabatini
The last tennis player on this list, Gabriela Sabatini was one of the most gorgeous women on the planet in the 1990s. Even though she only has one Grand Slam title during her career, she has found a way to look great and vibrant at the age of 47 years old. She’s not only one of the hottest women in the 90s, but also one of the most gorgeous women over 40.
But despite looking amazing, Sabatini is still single and she has never been married. She’s splitting her time in her native Argentina and Boca Raton, Florida. Sabatini is the face of several brands and she has helped several children’s organizations since retiring in 2006. She has worked for UNICEF and UNESCO, as well as the Special Olympics. Stunningly beautiful and a great human being, what more can you ask for a woman, right?
2 Didn't: Tonya Harding
Tonya Harding was an American sweetheart in the early 90s as one of the best figure skaters in the world. However, Harding was banned for life from the United States Figure Skating Association after pleading guilty to her involvement in the attack on fellow figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, in 1994. It was all downhill for Harding after the Kerrigan assault.
Harding released a "tape" with then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, in the same year. Once a cute and fit figure skater, Harding is now a shell of her former self. Going into boxing in 2002 did not help either as she only finished with a record of four wins and three losses. But now out of the limelight, Harding is happily married to Joseph Jens Prince and they have one son together.
1 Graceful: Dara Torres
The first swimmer ever to represent the United States in five Olympics, Dara Torres was 41 years old when she competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She ended up winning a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle event to bring her total medal count to 12. Torres has four Olympic gold medals, four silvers, and four bronze medals in her career.
Now at the age of 50 years old, Torres still looks great and she is in better shape than most people in her age group. She has worked in television since retiring while also walking the runway as a model. Torres has one daughter with former partner, David Hoffman. She has been married twice. Besides the 12 Olympic medals, Torres also holds six world records in swimming.