World number one golfer Annika Sorenstam, who won her sixth major in 2003, is the Reuters sportswoman of the year.
Thirty one sports editors and journalists from 24 countries nominated up to three leading sportswomen of 2003. Each first place choice was awarded three points, second place got two points and third place received one.
Sweden's Sorenstam won the poll with 46 points out of a possible 93 ahead of British world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe, who got 33 points. Belgian tennis player Justine Henin-Hardenne came third with 27 points.
The survey was taken from December 11 to 17.
"Sorenstam showed exceptional ability on the women's tour...what a credit she is to golf," said Joseph Romanos at The Listener magazine in New Zealand.
Sorenstam won six major titles in 2003, including the LPGA Championship and the British Open.
Earlier in the year Sorenstam hit the headlines when she played alongside the men at the Colonial tournament, becoming the first female player to compete in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945.
The Swede missed the cut by four shots but won plaudits for taking part.
"At the risk of humiliation, Sorenstam took on the men and came through with dignity," said Roger Crutchley at the Bangkok Post.
Britain's Radcliffe smashed her own world record in the London marathon in April, although she was forced to pull out of the Paris world championships in August due to injury.
However, she bounced bank to win the women's world half-marathon title for the third time.
"(Radcliffe has) taken the sport to a new level," said Neil Robinson at the Evening Standard in Britain.
Henin-Hardenne won the French and U.S. Open titles in 2003 and secured the year-end number one ranking.
"Tennis is more and more a powersport...but (Henin-Hardenne) is a technical ballplayer with one of the best backhands of the world," said Valentijn Driessen at De Telegraaf in the Netherlands.
Others also praised the diminutive tennis star from Belgium. "Ms Henin-Hardenne's domination of tennis...was an example of the triumph of talent and determination over pure physical strength," said Andre Fontenelle at Veja in Brazil.
World heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft from Sweden came fourth in the poll with 16 points just two points ahead of world 800 metres champion Maria Mutola from Mozambique.
"Kluft is the best in her field and is also really fun to watch, an entertainer," said Juhani Heikkila at STT in Finland.