40 Most Successful Athletes of the 21st Century

Source: Andrew Redington / Getty Images

36. Tiger Woods
> Sport: Golf
> Championships: 15x Major champion
> Team or country: United States
> Career length: 1996-present
> Other accomplishments: 81 career tour wins

Tiger Woods enjoyed a decade of pro golf dominance starting in 1997, winning 14 majors. Facing injuries and personal struggles, his golf game suffered for a decade. But Woods was recently able to earn redemption, winning the 2019 Masters tournament — his 81st tournament win and 15th major championship. In February 2021, however, Woods’ golf future was again thrown into question after he injured his right leg in a car accident.

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images

37. Tim Duncan
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 5x NBA Champion
> Team or country: San Antonio Spurs
> Career length: 1997-2016
> Other accomplishments: 15x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 2x MVP

After being drafted first overall in 1997, Tim Duncan proved his worth almost immediately, winning his first of five NBA championships in 1999. Nicknamed the Big Fundamental, Duncan was a model of consistency, making 15 All Star teams in 19 seasons. He won two MVPs and propelled the Spurs to five titles in his career.

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38. Tom Brady
> Sport: Football
> Championships: 7x Super Bowl
> Team or country: New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
> Career length: 2000-present
> Other accomplishments: 15x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, 3x MVP

Tom Brady is unquestionably the most successful quarterback in NFL history, winning seven Super Bowls. No other player has more than five. Brady took the New England Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six of them. Following the 2019 season, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and led the team to a Super Bowl title in his first year. Brady has made 15 Pro Bowls and won three MVPs. Brady announced his retirement following the 2021 season, but decided to come back to the Bucs shortly thereafter.

Source: Christian Petersen / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

39. Tony Parker
> Sport: Basketball
> Championships: 4x NBA Champion
> Team or country: San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets
> Career length: 2001-2019
> Other accomplishments: 6x All-Star

After starting in the NBA as a teenager, Tony Parker became one of the league’s top point guards, winning four championships and one finals MVP award. Parker was a member of six All Star teams. He played for 17 seasons with the Spurs and had one final season with the Charlotte Hornets before retiring.

Source: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

40. Usain Bolt
> Sport: Track
> Championships: 8x Olympic gold medal
> Team or country: Jamaica
> Career length: 2004-2016
> Other accomplishments: 8 total medals in four Olympics

Usain Bolt has proven time and time again that he is the fastest man on earth. The Jamaican sprinter competed in four Olympics and won gold in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m relay three times. One of his relay gold medals was stripped after a teammate was caught doping.

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