Top 6 Best Women's Badminton Players Of All Time

Top 6 Best Womens Badminton Players Of All Time

Badminton is an extremely popular sport, especially in countries such as China, Korea, Japan, and other Asian nations. Though badminton is also popular in other parts of the world and is growing in popularity in countries like the United States, its extreme popularity in the Eastern Hemisphere makes it a rather obvious conclusion that the top players of the sport, both men and women,  will hail from Asian countries.

Who Are the Best Women’s Badminton Players of All Time?

Below is a list of the best women’s badminton players who have all achieved excellence in their sport:

  1. Zhang Ning
  2. Gao Ling
  3. Li Lingwei
  4. Carolina Marín
  5. Whang Yihan
  6. Han Aiping

1. Zhang Ning

  • 385 wins, 97 losses
  • Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Women’s Singles (2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing)
  • Badminton World Championships Gold Medalist, Women’s Singles (2003)
  • Two-time Silver Medalist World Championships, Women’s Singles (2005, 2006)
  • Two-time Bronze Medalist World Championships, Women’s Singles (2001, 2007)
  • Badminton World Cup Silver Medalist (2005) 

Zhang Ning is arguably the greatest female badminton player of all time. Born on May 19, 1975, in Liaoning, China. The Chinese player represented her nation in the Uber Cup from 1994-2006, a record for female players. Her stardom began after winning the French Open in 1994, and subsequently, the Swedish, Malaysia, Singapore, and Korea Opens. 

By 2003, she had entered the prime of her career and showed this by winning the gold medal for women’s singles at the 2004 Olympics. She would again win gold in 2008, being the only female badminton player to ever win back-to-back Olympic gold medals for singles.  

She retired after winning gold in 2008 and immediately started coaching the Chinese National Badminton Team. In 2018, she was replaced for the team’s poor performance. Zhang still will be remembered as one of the greatest female badminton players of all time for dominant play on the international level.

2. Gao Ling

  • Highest-ranked player for women’s and mixed doubles during her playing days
  • Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Mixed Doubles (2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens)
  • Olympic Silver Medalist, Women’s Doubles (2004)
  • Olympic Bronze Medalist, Women’s Doubles (2000)
  • Nine total medals at Badminton World Championships 

Gao Ling is one of the greatest female badminton players of all time and is most famously known for her outstanding doubles play. Another Chinese player, Gao was born in Hubei, China on March 14, 1979. During her career she achieved more gold Olympic medals than any other female badminton player in history, and of all her major wins were in doubles gameplay.

Gao won two gold medals with partner Zhang Jun in the 2000 and 2004 Olympic games. She was also incredibly dominant in the World Championship, winning a total of nine medals (four gold, four silver, and one bronze). For six consecutive years, Gao won the All-England Championships Women’s Doubles title and was a pioneer member of the Chinese Uber team. Just like Zhang Ning, Gao has a history of dominant play in international competition and is one of the greatest female badminton players of all time.  

3. Li Lingwei

  • Two-time Badminton World Championships gold medalist, Women’s Singles (1983, 1989)
  • Badminton World Championships gold medalist, Women’s Doubles (1985)
  • 1998 Badminton Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Six total medals World Championship
  • Led Chinese team to three Uber Cups

Li Lingwei is one of the older players on this list but still earns her spot as one the greatest female badminton players of all time. She was a dominant force within the sport during the 1980s and played alongside Han Aiping. She was born on January 4, 1964, in Zhejiang, China. 

Throughout her career, Lii won three gold medals and two silver medals at the World Championships for both women’s singles and doubles gameplay. However, she was never able to compete at the Olympic level, as the sport of badminton was not introduced into the games until after her retirement.

She also managed to capture a World Prix singles title as well. In 1998, after her retirement, she was inducted into the Badminton Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee. Since then, she has continued to be a figurehead in the sport. 

4. Carolina Marín

  • 430 wins, 124 losses
  • Olympic gold medalist, Women’s Singles (2016 Rio)
  • Three-time Badminton World Championships gold medalist (2014, 2015, 2018)
  • Top-ranked player in 2015
  • Six-time European Champion (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022)

Carolina Marín was the first Spanish woman to ever be ranked number one in the world in the sport of badminton. She has come into the spotlight dominating within the sport since 2014 and is the only ranked player who’s primarily left-handed. She was born on June 15, 1993, in Huelva, Spain. 

She is known for her work ethic and the unbelievable determination and fight that she plays with in every match. Marín had many accomplishments at a young age. She won the 2014 and 2015 World Championship titles for women’s singles and more recently won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games (women’s singles) in Rio, Brazil.

5. Wang Yihan

  • 368 wins, 91 losses
  • Silver medalist at the Olympic Games, Women’s Singles (2012 London)
  • Badminton World Championships gold medalist, Women’s Singles (2011)
  • Four-time Sudirman Cup gold medalist, Mixed Team (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015)
  • Total of 30 medals across all tournaments

Wang Yihan is another great badminton player from China who has shined in international tournaments across the world. Yihan was born in Shanghai, China, on January 18, 1988. She began playing the sport at the young age of nine, and her mother was her coach. Her skills developed quickly, and she was selected for the Junior team in 2004.

In 2006, Wang was brought up to the national team and began competing on behalf of Team China internationally. She would go on to win a silver medal for women’s singles in the 2012 London Olympics and took home two gold medals in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Throughout her career, she was a commanding presence at major tournaments and won a total of 30 medals. She announced her retirement after finishing fifth in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

6. Han Aiping

  • 13 Gold Medals in International Play
  • Two-time Badminton World Championships gold medalist (1979, 1985)
  • Badminton World Championships gold medalist, Women’s Doubles (1985)
  • 1998 Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Joined the Chinese International Team at the age of 16

Han Aiping played alongside Li Lingwei, and is the final player on this list. She was dominant during the 1980s when she played alongside Lingwei, and the two were known as the Queens of badminton. Han was born on April 22, 1962, in Wuhan, China.

She began to train in the sport extremely young, at only the age of 10, and five years later, she played in her first international competition, where she performed exceptionally well. When she was 16, Han was invited to join the Chinese International Team, and her career began to take off. In 1979 she won her first gold medal in the World Championships (women’s singles) for badminton. However, her career was put on hold for two years when she was diagnosed with “hyperthyroidism” and had to take a break from playing the sport she loved.

She did return and ultimately made a successful return to the sport, going on to win a total of 24 medals across international tournaments throughout the world. After her retirement, she was inducted into the Hall of Fame for badminton in 1998, alongsider her teammate Li Lingwei.

Honorable Mentions

Susi Susanti

  • Olympic gold medalist in women’s singles (1992 Barcelona)
  • Olympic bronze medalist in women’s singles (1996 Atlanta)
  • 5-time World Cup gold medalist in women’s singles
  • 8-time gold medalist at Southeast Asian Games

Susi Susanti is regarded as one of the best women’s singles players in the history of badminton. The retired Indonesian badminton player was extremely successful on the international stage, medaling at two separate Olympic Games, with a gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games and a bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games. She also dominated the field at the Southeastern Asian Games throughout her career, amassing a whopping eight gold medals and one silver medal in women’s singles and doubles.

Li Xuerui

  • Olympic gold medalist in women’s singles (2012 London)
  • 3-time Uber Cup gold medalist in women’s team
  • 2-time Asian Championship gold medalist in women’s singles
  • 2-time Sudirman Cup gold medalist in mixed team

Li Xuerui is a retired Chinese badminton player who is regarded as one of the best all-around players of the 21st century. She burst onto the scene as a teenager, winning two World Junior Championship gold medals in mixed team and two Asian Junior Championship gold medals. Li then went on to have an extremely successful senior career, winning multiple gold medals in the Uber Cup and a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. While she never won a World Championship, she was able to gather two silver medals there in 2013 and 2014.

Camilla Martin

  • Olympic silver medalist in women’s singles (2000 Sydney)
  • 3-time European Championship gold medalist in women’s singles
  • 5-time European Mixed Team Championship gold medalist
  • 1999 World Championship gold medalist

Camilla Martin is a retired Danish professional badminton player. She was one of the most dominant European badminton players of all time. While she had an extremely successful career, Martin was never able to bring home Olympic gold. The closest she got was a silver medal at the 2000 Games in Sydney. However, outside of the Olympics, she won several major tournaments internationally. She won six medals at the European Championships, three of those being gold. Martin also won the 1999 World Championship in women’s singles.


Who is the best women’s badminton player of all time?

The best women’s badminton player of all time is Zhang Ning. Across her career, Zhang racked up an impressive 385 wins, with only 97 losses. She was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in women’s singles, winning in 2004 and 2008. This was notable because Zhang was the first female badminton player to win back-to-back gold medals at the Olympics. Zhang has won numerous other medals at various badminton tournaments, including the Badminton World Championships, the World Cup, the Sudirman Cup, and the Uber Cup.

Which women’s badminton player has the most Olympic gold medals?

A total of five women’s badminton players have won two Olympic gold medals in the sport, which is the largest total thus far won by women badminton players. These women are: Gao Ling, Zhao Yunlei, Ge Fei, Gu Jun, and Zhang Ning. All five of these women’s badminton players hail from China, showcasing the country’s dominance in the sport. 

Which women’s badminton player has won the most Badminton World Championship gold medals?

The women’s badminton player with the most gold medals at the BWF Badminton World Championships is Zhao Yunlei. Zhao has won five gold medals at the World Championships, three in mixed doubles, and two in women’s doubles. Zhao’s mixed doubles medals occurred in 2011, 2014, and 2015, while her doubles medals occurred in 2014 and 2015.