As one of the best female golfers ever, the late Annika Sorenstam held a number of records that stand today, including highest number of career wins (76) and greatest earnings ($40 million). But her career was not without controversy, as Time pointed out:
When Sorenstam was first hired by a tour in 1990, she was only 18, and a self-described “cheerleader” of golf. For 17 years, she played a total of 282 golf tournaments. But in 1998, she shocked the world by becoming the only woman to win the Masters golf tournament, claiming victory after a competition that was not played as equal in color as men’s golf tournaments were. It was the biggest career victory of her life, and turned her into one of the world’s greatest all-sport athletes, transforming the game and the world’s attitude toward women’s sports. Sorenstam said she was the first female to tell the $6 million in weekly purses she earned in 2004 that she would quit if she wasn’t paid the same as her male competitors. She eventually broke down the gender pay gap by getting more money from sponsors.
Like many great athletes, Sorenstam wore many hats, a frequent practice among her fellow athletes. In many of her interviews, she made it clear that she was first and foremost a golfer, and she often credited a champion of women’s rights and equal pay as her inspiration. As her career was winding down, however, she was portrayed by many to be the female version of Tiger Woods, to compare her to his success — a comparison Sorenstam strongly dismissed.
You can watch Sorenstam’s full career highlights here.