Issue 100: SportPro’s 10 Athletes

SportsPro has now been in print for ten years and 100 issues. To commemorate that landmark we’ve created the SportsPro 100, an in no way comprehensive list of the people and the developments that have coloured our history.

Issue 100: SportPro’s 10 Athletes

To kick off our 100th issue celebration here is an in no way comprehensive list of the athletes that have coloured our history. 

1. Lewis Hamilton

The Briton has won four Formula One world titles from 2008 to 2017 and became the most talkedabout figure in motorsport.

What was said...

There is no more exhilarating sight in the sport than Hamilton in a fast car. For sponsors, the package is already in place – the maturing star, the celebrity girlfriend, the seven-figure social media following and the expert management of XIX Entertainment. After a decade endorsing brands this resurgent champion is worth another look. He might just be the best bet in all of sport

Lewis Hamilton, number one, SportsPro 50 Most Marketable 2014


2. Serena Williams’

23 Grand Slam singles titles would already make her a star; her contribution off the court has made her an icon.

What was said...

Venus and I are always trying to expand our brand. If the opportunity presents itself, we would love to see where it can take us

Serena Williams in 2009 confirming her and sister Venus were in talks with Stephen M. Ross on spending a seven-figure sum to become minority owners in the Miami Dolphins


3. Floyd Mayweather Jr

Controversial, irrepressible, unbeatable, and very rich.

What was said...

Floyd Mayweather has made a career out of being the guy everyone wants to see knocked out, but is too damn good to be caught

Mayweather v McGregor: why is it happening and what does it tell us about the sports industry, SportsPro Commercial Preview 2017​


4. Neymar

Has electrified fans in his homeland of Brazil, winning Olympic gold in 2016 after the traumas of the 2014 World Cup, and shone in Barcelona before becoming soccer’s most expensive player with PSG.

What was said...

Neymar is very much the perfect storm: young, gifted and with an Olympics and a home World Cup on the horizon. He is already a superstar in Brazil, one of the world's most robust economies and a vast market to boot. If you were a brand looking to make an impact in Brazil, he would certainly be the athlete you'd pick. Neymar is Brazil's poster boy for its sporting decade

Neymar, number one, SportsPro 50 Most Marketable 2012


5. Ronda Rousey

Others had more lasting success but Rousey did more than any other fighter to break UFC into the mainstream.

What was said...

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s bantamweight champion, who turned to the octagon after becoming the first American woman to win a judo medal at the 2008 Olympics, is without question the biggest name in women’s MMA, and, quite possibly, men’s too

Ronda Rousey, number 12, SportsPro 50 Most Marketable 2014


6. Usain Bolt

For so much of a glittering career, was simply well clear of the rest.

What was said...

Some athletes are described as bigger than their sport. Bolt might be bigger still. More than any sportsman in living memory, he offers the promise of something historic with every competitive appearance

Usain Bolt, number 1, SportsPro 50 Most Marketable 2011

7. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Who could possibly separate them?

What was said about Messi...

A year ago there was some debate as to who the best soccer player in the world was – Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi? There can be none now. Lionel Messi is simply a phenomenon

And what was said about Ronaldo...

The reason for Ronaldo’s supreme marketability is that – and, for the most part, unlike Messi – his appeal transcends the world of soccer

Lionel Messi, number 22, and Cristiano Ronaldo, number 3, SportsPro Most Marketable 2011


8. Roger Federer

Gracefully stood apart even in the greatest era of men’s tennis.

What was said...

It is Federer, the undisputed king of tennis, at the head of the Nike family

Roger Federer, profile, SportsPro, 2011


9. LeBron James

The highschool phenomenon who is still getting better, and has become a global role model.

What was said...

Fans just don’t take to super teams. When LeBron took his talents to South Beach, he put on the villain’s hat

LeBron James, number 19, SportsPro Most Marketball, 2012


10. Caster Semenya

The brilliant South African has won many titles but embodies an agonising question for sport’s future.

What was said...

Running is what I will always do. Even if, maybe, the authorities could have stopped me from running in 2009, they could not have stopped me in the fields

Caster Semenya, 'What I dream of is to become Olympic champion', in an interview with the BBC, 2015 on the IAAF's demanding that she take a sex verification test in 2009