It’s always been a bit of a balancing act for female athletes, having to maintain their incredible physical abilities along with their looks. That’s especially true today as a great-looking athlete can score millions in endorsements as well as the usual rewards of their craft. Some ladies try to focus just on their athletic work while others are smart enough to know their time in the spotlight is limited and it’s best to use it while they can. Indeed (just like their male counterparts), many female athletes are far more famous for their looks than actual victories. But some are able to be both winners and lookers which makes them far more appealing.
For years, many big name athletes have posed for “Playboy” Magazine. Gabrielle Reece, Katarina Witt, Amanda Beard, numerous WWE Divas and more. While some may criticize them doffing it all for male readers, these women are usually proud of the spreads, going for an artistic bent and not minding showing how athletic they truly are. As you can imagine, there are lots of ladies out there who we wish would show it all off more. Some have done daring spreads in other magazines but not the full goods, many numerous champions and all utterly gorgeous. In any case, each would be a fantastic spread, all with fans and an actually artistic shoot to show them off can showcase the great way women balance their bodies with their craft. Here are 25 women we’d love to see grace the pages of Hugh Hefner’s mag in all their glory, each one of them a stunning looker to remind us how alluring the female athlete can be.
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23 Blair O’Neal
So maybe she’s not the superstar golfer many would hope she’d be. There can be no denying her breathtaking beauty, a woman who looks more like she should be walking the catwalk than the greens and while she may not be all that great, still plays a better game than most might think. She’s branched to other sports and showcased her amazing body in bikinis and the like so a turn in “Playboy” only seems natural for her. She may not always succeed but she damn sure looks great trying.
22 Stephanie Gilmore
A six-time World champion surfer, this Aussie-born blonde had a memorable pic in the 2011 ESPN “Body Issue” that confirmed what her fans know: she’s as gorgeous as she is talented. Able to catch a wave and work a curve like few others in her sport, she’s dominated every tour she’s been a part of and incredibly popular. She may already show a lot in her sport already but would be nice to see it in full to show how well surfers make waves.
21 Caroline Wozinacki
Quite a few tennis players can be found on this list and this Danish beauty is among the more notable. While she's yet to win a Grand Slam title, she has several notable victories and was once ranked number 1 in the world. She’s fast on the court but also a great looker off it, blonde hair and rocks a skirt better than most others in her field. A spread may not make her a champion but certainly raise her profile more and remind us again of how hot lady tennis players are.
20 Jamie Anderson
There’s something about female snowboarders. They’re bundled up like crazy for their job yet so many of them are stunning underneath it all. Jamie Anderson certainly fits that bill as she made history winning the Gold Medal at the inaugural Slopestyle Event at the 2014 Winter Olympics. A feisty blonde, she’s quite good with her board moves but has shown a good ability to “dress down” and the idea of her wearing a board and nothing else would make quite the spread to enjoy.
19 Ana Ivanovic
This Serbian-born tennis star can boast victories at the French and Australian Opens, the massive attention overwhelming her afterward and leading to a slump. However, she appears back to her old form with victories and what a form it is. Gorgeous, her dark hair and alluring appearance give her a different feel than other female tennis stars and has shown a stunning body off in bikinis and dresses so having her doff it all would be a true treat to highlight her comeback trail.
18 Hilary Knight
A lady known for dressing up a lot, this forward is a key part of the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team and in the CWHL as well. Fast but able to back it up with power, she does better than most male forwards in the NHL and a great star in her own right. She has shown off in “ESPN Magazine” in a memorable spread, a great body that packs power with her beauty and to show it off in full would be quite the nice sight to show how women skaters aren’t always the figure types.
17 Alex Morgan
The star of the U.S. Women’s soccer team, Alex Morgan combines a natural beauty with a fantastic skill at her sport. Her Olympic gold medal proves her skill as she attempts to lead the U.S. to a World Cup victory. She’s a great balance among the other players, a great standout and still looks gorgeous doing it all. She may not be the knockout of others on the team or in her sport but still a great body that can be enjoyed.
16 Natalie Coughlin
It may seem odd that a woman known for being in a swimsuit needs to strip down more but Coughlin can fit that bill. A 12-time Olympic medalist, this swimmer has proven herself a force to be reckoned with in the water and amazing with her sleek body and build. A spread can show that off even more as the woman has a fantastic smile and seeing her in nothing but that would be fun and enjoy a great look at a woman who knows how to work the water well.
15 Daniela Hantuchova
Not as huge a name as other tennis stars, she does have a fantastic career with a Wimbledon Doubles win and still a force to contend with in tournaments. Like some other famous tennis names, she’s gorgeous with blonde hair but still an intensity few can match on the court and that just makes her appeal all the better. Strip her down and she’d be a great face for the magazine with a body to back it up.
14 Elena Hight
I’m a sucker for a redhead and a redheaded snowboarder is even better. The 2012 US Open Champion and a four-time X Games medalist, the Hawaiian-born Hight is a marvel with her red tresses flying as she does her craft, the first person (male or female) to ever nail the double backside alley-oop in a halfpipe which deserves massive kudos. An avid surfer as well, she did a memorable “Body Issue” shot a while back and would be fun giving redheads their due with a “Playboy” spread to fire things up more.
13 Sasha Cohen
The former Olympic skater has grown up very nicely indeed. Utterly gorgeous today, the brunette has glammed up in various events, a far cry from her more girlish look when she won Silver Medals at the Winter Games in 2006. She’s very flexible, a bonus for a spread and would be something to follow in the footsteps of Katarina Witt and others to show how well some ladies can heat up the ice.
12 AJ Lee
Arguably the best of the recent crop of WWE Divas, AJ Lee is famous for openly trashing her fellow workers for going off just their looks rather than skill. That outspoken demeanor has won over numerous fans along with her terrific ring work as she looks hotter in jean shorts and a torn shirt than ladies in bikinis. WWE and “Playboy” have a long history together and would be fun to see Lee keep that momentum up and her fans a nice thrill, proving that one doesn’t have to be a “Diva” to bring the boys in. While WWE no longer wants their Divas posing for the magazine, the fact that Lee is retired would make her free to do it if she so pleased. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like she'd be the type to want to do it. Damn!
11 T-13. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh
The most dominant female volleyball duo in history, these multiple time Olympic gold medalists were a fantastic pair to watch. Yes, they were hot but backed it up with strength and skill, always in sync, never giving up and creaming any opponent in their path. They looked great in just shorts and tight tops and while it’s probably too much to hope they’d pose together, either one would be a wonderful addition to the Playboy ranks. But it’d just be fitting for them to be together to show one of the best partnerships sports has ever known in its glory.
10 Jennie Finch
Described as the most famous women’s softball player ever, Jennie Finch is a superb athlete, leading the U.S. to gold at the 2014 Olympic Games. Of course, it helps that she’s more than easy on the eyes, a true “girl next door” appeal but when she glams up, it’s amazing. She has done bikini shoots that showcase her body but still remains pretty down to earth despite her fame which adds to her popularity. A Playboy spread might be a bit much but still something to win folks over more and cement her status as a great icon of her sport.
9 Lindsey Vonn
A four-time World Cup victor and Olympic gold medalist, Lindsey Vonn is known for being bundled up on the slopes. But when she does strip it down, she is stunningly gorgeous with lush blonde hair and a supermodel body. Yet that beauty is matched with a great concentration and intensity on the slopes that just makes her winning along with a fun humor that emphasizes her appeal and why a “Playboy” spread would be so popular.
8 Anna Kournikova
Let’s be brutally honest; she’s always been far more famous for her looks than her actual tennis abilities. She never held a singles WTA title, never advanced far in major tournaments and her career was cut short at just 21 due to back injuries. But there’s no denying her appeal with her stunning looks, lush blonde hair and foreign allure. A “Playboy” spread can seem only natural to her and be a fun look back at a star in so many ways.
7 Danica Patrick
Like Kournikova, she’s known better for looks than real victories, constantly coming up short in her attempts at things like the Indy 500 and other major races. However, she has helped blaze a trail for other female racers that does merit some points. There’s also how Danica Patrick is drop-dead stunning, showing off in her ads for Go Daddy and others, an amazing body underneath her racing gear. Showing it all off would help secure her, if not as a racer, certainly a true female star and be a true winner in sales.
6 Trish Stratus
Once merely “eye candy,” when she debuted in WWE in 2000, she has gone on to become a six-time Women’s champion and recognized as the best female wrestler of her generation. She was truly fantastic in the ring, far more than just showing off her generous assets and a good connection to crowds. Mostly retired since 2006, she runs her own yoga studio and still makes occasional appearances in WWE. Her hair is darker but still one of the most beloved of all the Divas and would be a great touch to see her follow the footsteps of her peers in “Playboy” and look amazing doing it.
5 Sydney Leroux
A standout of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, this gold medalist wowed on the red carpet at the ESPY’s a few years back with her amazing glam looks and has followed it up with some nice swimsuit shots. She’s a terrific player on the field as well as gorgeous in her swimsuit shoots so having her in Playboy is only a natural. It would be a good spread to show a woman so daring and gorgeous in many ways having some fun with her action.
4 Gina Carano
A pioneer for female MMA fighters, she’s strikingly beautiful but also fearsome inside the Octagon. Her titles may not be as numerous as others but she gave her all and can still look amazing in a fight. She’s turned herself to movies and done well with “Haywire” and “Fast 6” emphasizing a terrific mix of beauty and brawn and while a return to MMA isn’t in the cards, she’s proven herself as a hot mix that can be easy on the eyes but hard on the body.
3 T-4. Venus and Serena Williams
It may be way too much to ask for them to pose together but there’s no denying the allure of these two. “ESPN Magazine” reported huge sales for their “Body Issues” that featured both in (partly covered) nude shots that showed their amazing full figures. Each are Grand Slam Champions and Olympic Gold Medalists with numerous titles, each both respected and feared by their competitors and giving it their all on the court. They’re also setting a new direction for black female athletes, unafraid and proud of their achievements so you could imagine them showing it off more, nothing to be ashamed of and cement their great reputations more.
2 Ronda Rousey
The undisputed female star of MMA, the undefeated UFC Bantamweight Champion is known for disposing of opponents in just seconds. She’s intense as hell in the octagon and in training but can show a surprising softer side with photo shoots and fans. She’s been trying her hand at movies with the likes of “Expendables 3” and “Furious 7” and doing a good job there as well. She’s a woman who loves to defy expectations. She's already graced the cover of the ESPN Body Issue. As she's said before, she goes nude on her own terms “If it’s going to get out there, then I want it to get out there on my terms." In her book, Rousey stated she wouldn't want outright nude pictures of her out there, because she doesn't want her future kids and grandkids to google her name and see exposed pictures of her pop up. Her reasoning behind doing the ESPN Body Issue was that she would expose what would be exposed if she were wearing a swimsuit. But we can dream, can't we?
1 Maria Sharapova
Yes, she’s blonde, gorgeous, Russian and no problem showing her body off in bikini shoots. But unlike Kournikova, Maria Sharapova has the championships to back her up: The lone Russian to hold a Grand Slam, a total of 35 titles and an Olympic silver medal. She still can rock a tennis court like few others, slamming a ball with ferocity and look amazing doing it. At 28, she looks younger and still able to be a hot competitor and an issue of her showing it all off would be a huge seller to really enjoy and a nice cap to a woman who plays as good as she looks…which is pretty damn amazing.
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