Uljana Semjonova

Uljana Semjonova's considerable impact on women's international basketball is modest compared to the inspiration she was to her native Latvia. From 1970 to 1985, Semjonova was voted the most popular athlete in her country 12 times. In the same 15-year span, Sports Illustrated never picked a repeat Sportsman of the Year. During the 7-foot Semjonova's remarkable 18-year career, which began in 1968, she never lost a single game when playing in international competition. Over the next two decades, she garnered some 45 medals, including 15 gold medals from the Soviet national championships, 11 gold medals from the highly competitive European Championships, and three gold medals from the World Championships. In the short history of women's Olympic basketball, Semjonova earned two gold medals playing for the Soviet Union in the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games. She dominated international competition like no player before or since.