The title of this piece probably sounds harsher than it is. Of course, everyone who appears here is an extraordinary athlete. But being an extraordinary athlete is not necessarily enough to give you a boost to international stardom, which is smack dab where all these ladies reside.

Now that I’m done covering my ass, let’s bring out the hot chicks, shall we?

1. Maria Kirilenko

She’s never placed higher than 18th, and is currently hovering around 26th. That’s pretty good for you and me, but does anyone really know who the 18th (or 26th) best person at anything is? Maybe Tiger Woods on a bad day, but that’s about it. Still she’s only 24, which means she’s heading into the twilight of her career, but she’s still trending upwards. So let’s say she’s got five years of game left. Her looks could be with her a while longer, though.

2. Biba Golic

If you don’t know who Biba Golic is, you might have to bear with me for a second. She’s a “professional” ping-pong player. (I’m not going to call it “table tennis,” and you can’t make me.) She’s been referred to as the “Anna Kournikova of table tennis,” which I’m sure is not meant to praise her abilities. She played at Texas Wesleyan on a table tennis scholarship, which I didn’t even know you could do, and my dad will be mad at me for not having pursued. She’s Croatian, she’s 33, and she’s really hot. Just enjoy the picture.

3. Anna Kournikova

No titles to her name, and her highest ranking was #8, though she did sit at #1 in doubles. Nothing to sneeze at, but surely not commensurate with her international superstardom. If you don’t think that has something to do with her looks, you’re fooling yourself. She has reached a level of international renown for being a hot girl that plays tennis.

Google results for “Anna Kournikova Hot”: 15.4 million

Google results for “Anna Kournikova Tennis”: 4.76 million

People are three times more interested in her hotness than in her tennis skills. And I think that’s pretty damn conservative.

4. Jeanette Lee

The “Black Widow.” Why do I know the nickname of a professional billiards player? It’s not because she’s the best in her class (she was). From 1994 to 2007, she was a best-in-class pool player. So let nothing I say diminish the fact that she is probably the most decorated pool player this green earth has ever seen. However, let nothing I say augment the fact that she is a female pool player that exists almost exclusively on Saturday afternoons on ESPN2. The fact that I know her is a “consequence” of her hotness. I will let you argue with me about her accomplishments and fame. I won’t let you argue with me about her hotness.

5. Ashley Harkleroad

She didn’t get to where she is because she has a sexy name, that’s for damn sure. She also probably didn’t get to where she is as a result of her tennis accomplishments, seeing as how her career-high ranking is #39. You know what gets you notoriety when you peak at #39 in the world of women’s tennis? Posing nude in Playboy.

So guess what Harkleroad did?

Time’s almost up….

Yup. She posed for Playboy, insuring that her name and brand would become infinitely more valuable than her prowess on the court. She’s made over a mil in winnings, but I’m guessing that’s a drop in the bucket considering what she makes in endorsements. We can’t show you the Playboy pics, but go ahead and Google her. Make sure SafeSearch is turned off.

6. Danica Patrick

She’s a great race car driver. But if she wasn’t a hot woman in a man’s game, I’m not entirely sure that she’d be the ubiquitous force that she is, haunting us during every Super Bowl, trying to prove some causal link between seeing a hot naked chick on TV and recognizing the need to reserve a domain name.

She’s been voted the most popular driver in the IndyCar circuit from 2005-2010. You know how many wins she has? 1. That’s only 1 more win than I have on the IndyCar circuit. You know how many times I’ve been voted “Most Popular Driver?”
That wasn’t rhetorical. I really don’t know. I’m assuming it’s 0, but the research guy is on vacation, so I’m at a loss.

7. Anna Rawson

According to Wikipedia (the definitive source for everything, always), this Australian golfer has one top-10 finish and has made roughly the same amount of money playing professional golf as I have over the same period of time writing these funny little lists. Somehow, she caught the attention of lad mags and fashion designers all over the world. But how?

I dunno. Cause she’s insanely hot?

8. Natalie Gulbis

Gulbis has one LPGA win in 2007, and endorsement deals with RSM McGladrey, TaylorMade Golf, Adidas, Canon, Michelob Ultra, SkyCaddie, Payment Data Systems, MasterCard, Winn GolfGrips, Lake Las Vegas Resort and EA Sports. Now, some of these I get. I’m pretty sure I could hang out at my local pitch-and-putt for a week and weasel some kind of endorsement from TaylorMade. But Payment Data Systems? They decided they needed to enlist the help of a golfer that’s only cracked the top 10 in annual earnings once? And MasterCard thought the only cache associated with the winner of the 2007 Evian Masters would be able to bring to the table.

Those last two unanswered questions were rhetorical. And a little mean. Sorry, Nat. Keep on truckin’.

9. Ashley Force

Granted, I’ve got something of a blind spot when it comes to motorsports, but the fact that I’ve heard of Mrs. Ashley Force Hood should be a red flag in and of itself, especially considering she races funny cars. There is no reason that I should know a single funny car driver. I don’t even know what a funny car is. I can only assume it’s more humorous than a regular car. And probably faster than my Prius. Just kidding. I don’t own a Prius. I can’t stress that enough.

ANYWAY, Ashley notched a couple of victories, wound up second in the points standings, then took a hiatus during her pregnancy in 2011, but has appeared on the A&E TV show “Driving Force,” which I have never heard of, but does feature a delightful play on her maiden name. Tip o’ the hat, Ash.

10. Gabrielle Reece

For a stretch, Gabby Reece was the best beach female volleyball player in the world. However, considering I don’t know who the overall best volleyball player int eh world is today, it’s safe to say that when Gabby needed two qualifiers to take that title (“beach” and “female), she might have a had a little help in the looks department. She was anointed by Elle magazine one of the five most beautiful women in the world in 1989. While I think that may have been a little dramatic, she’s insanely hot and became a staple of MTV sports because the WBVL kill leader four years in a row.