The athletes in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 are certainly leaving their marks, both in and out of their sports.
TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023 includes movers and shakers from different cultures, backgrounds, and countries across all industries, such as entertainment, sports, business, or political scenes.
And ever since TIME released its first list of 100 Most Influential People in 1999, it has been considered a huge honor to be recognized in these lists.
For 2023, these are the athletes in TIME’s 100 who are making their mark both in and out of their sports.
At only 21 years old, Iga Switaek has become the poster girl for women’s tennis, ushering in a new era for the sport.
“When Iga Swiatek plays tennis, three things come to mind: beauty, power, and truth,” World Cup skiing champion Mikaela Shiffrin writes in her piece about the three-time Grand Slam winner. “As an athlete, and more importantly as a human, she embodies the kind of confidence that everyone should emulate—the confidence of action over mere talk.”
Apart from being a champion on the tennis court, Swiatek has also been known for championing the cause of mental health, as well as support for Ukrainians “in their fight to protect their home.”
On and off the court, she has truly earned her spot as one of the few athletes in TIME’s 100.
American professional basketball player Brittney Griner spent nearly 10 months in a Russian prison after being wrongfully detained. But throughout this challenging period, she displayed strength unlike much else, and her story is definitely one that deserves to be on TIME’s 100.
“But underneath this story of inner strength is so much more. BG’s wrongful detainment brought attention to issues like the inequities in pay for women athletes, which sometimes compel us to put ourselves in dangerous situations to maximize our financial worth,” fellow basketball star Sue Bird writes.
“These are the women who get sh-t done.”
The “wunderkind on the mountain,” as three-time Olympic-medalist skier Lindsey Vonn writes, professional skier Mikaela Shiffrin is a record-breaking athlete.
She has two Olympic gold medals and five overall World Cup titles. On top of this, she also won her 87th World Cup ski race, beating the former all-time record of 86 — a feat that seemed unattainable.
“Most people thought that record would never be broken, and having a female athlete do it is a really big deal,” Vonn continues. “With Serena Williams stepping away from tennis, there’s room for another big female global sports superstar, and Mikaela can fill that opportunity.”
Patrick Mahomes II
In the NFL scene, there is probably no one better to be included as an athlete in TIME’s 100 than Patrick Mahomes.
In February this year, NFL quarterback Mahomes won his second Super Bowl ring, as well as his second Super Bowl MVP award. But his influence extends past his accolades and is felt all over the United States.
Patrick is setting new bars. All these young players around the country are trying to imitate his sidearm throws and incredible plays,” fellow NFL star Peyton Manning writes about Mahomes.
“But I hope they know he’s also an incredibly hard worker. He appreciates the cerebral part of the game. And he understands his platform, as the MVP quarterback of the Super Bowl–winning team.”
Even when Argentina won a historic and unforgettable FIFA World Cup final in December 2022, fans will never forget how Kylian Mbappé brought France’s hopes of back-to-back titles back to life thrice within the span of the match, scoring a hat-trick for his country.
His influence garners him a spot as one of the athletes in TIME’s 100.
“A kid raised in Paris’ tough suburbs, Mbappé rocketed to global fame by winning the 2018 World Cup at just 19,” Vivienne Walt writes.
“He has a realistic view of fame, and even at 19 he knew it can be fickle. “We can be the best, and in four years, you are forgotten,” he told me then. No chance of that, Kylian.”
We do not need to recount Lionel Messi’s success as a football player — that is just how influential he is. But perhaps what we need to remind ourselves of is the fact that at 35 years old, he still manages to play like he’s at his peak.
“He dribbles like a magician, and his angular passes are works of art. His awareness and anticipation are almost beyond comprehension,” tennis legend Roger Federer writes about Messi.
“Now Messi can inspire future generations. I can only hope we get to see his unique creativity and artistry for a little bit longer. Don’t blink too often as Messi performs on the pitch. You may miss something incredible from the man of the moment.”