40 most successful athletes of the 21st century – 24/7 Wall St.

The goal of every professional athlete is to win championships. While many talented players have failed, others have been able to excel, winning multiple titles, tournaments or medals.

Since the turn of the century, a select few athletes have managed to dominate their competition year after year. Players like Tim Duncan and Tom Brady have taken their team to the top of their game time and time again. Others, like Tiger Woods, Serena Williams and Jimmie Johnson, have established their place among the most dominant individual athletes of all time.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed sources such as the Sports Reference family of sites, as well as other athletics databases, to determine the most successful athletes of the 21st century. Athletes in team sports were only counted if they won multiple championships since 2000. Athletes in individual sports were counted if they won multiple major championships in top leagues, as professional or Olympian.

Many of the most successful athletes of the 21st century seem destined for greatness from an early age. Players like LeBron James and Sidney Crosby were labeled as unique talents even before they graduated high school. They managed to live up to the hype, taking their struggling franchises from league worst to champions. They are the best No. 1 draft picks of all time.

Click here to see the 40 most successful athletes of the 21st century

Naomi C. Amerson