Queen Elizabeth II

Top Athletes Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

Knighthood is the highest honor one can receive for their sporting achievements

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Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday after a 70-year reign in which, among her many duties, she often paid tribute to Britain's rich sports culture.

One of the biggest honors for an athlete to receive is to be rewarded with a knighthood for one's contributions in the sporting world. Knighthoods have been awarded to men and women (Damehood) from many different sports. From soccer, to tennis, to swimming, many athletes have added "sir" or "dame" to their names.

Here's a look at some athletes who have been knighted by Elizabeth II since her ascension to the throne:

10: Sir Alastair Cook - Cricket

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26: Sir Alastair Cook with his knighthood following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on February 26, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In 2018, Alastair Cook officially received knighthood from Queen Elizabeth for his services to cricket. He was the first England cricketer to receive a knighthood since Sir Ian Botham in 2007 and the 11th player to be given the honor for services to English cricket.

9: Sir Mo Farah - Athletics

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 14: Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah poses after receiving his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on November 14, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jonathan Brady - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah received his knighthood from Queen Elizabth in 2017 for his services to athletics.

The world champion said being knighted was "an incredible honor" from the country that has been his home since he was eight.

8: Kenny Dalglish - Soccer

Scotland Liverpool football club legend Kenny Dalglish (L) holds his medal as he poses for a photograph with his wife Marina, after being knighted as a Knights Bachelor (Knighthood) at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London on November 16, 2018, for services to Football, to Charity and to the City of Liverpool. (Photo by Jonathan Brady / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JONATHAN BRADY/AFP via Getty Images)

Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2018.

The 71-year-old former Celtic and Liverpool player and manager was honored for his services to football, to charity and to the city of Liverpool.

7: Dame Ellen MacArthur - Sailing

Record-breaking solo round-the-world yachtswoman from the Isle of Wight, Dame Ellen MacArthur, with her Dame Commander medal. (Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Ellen MacArthur received her damehood (the female equivalent to a knight) in 2005 after setting a world record for the fastest solo non stop voyage around the world on her first attempt.

At 28, when MacArthur received the honor, she became the youngest ever to be named a dame.

6. Sir Jason & Laura Kenny - Cycling

Olympic champion cyclists Laura Kenny (R) and Jason Kenny (L) pose with their medals after they were both appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to cycling at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on April 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / John Stillwell (Photo credit should read JOHN STILLWELL/AFP via Getty Images)

Olympic cycling legends Laura and Jason Kenny received their knighthood and damehood from Queen Elizabeth in 2022 for their services in Cycling.

Laura is the most successful British female Olympian ever, winning five gold medals at three Olympic Games and Jason is a seven-time Olympic Gold medalist. The married couple have won 15 Olympic medals between them.

5: Pelé - Soccer

Pelé received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth in 1997. As a Brazilian citizen, he was not eligible to receive an actual knighthood. The soccer legend cannot use the title “Sir” until he becomes a British citizen - at which point the honorary knighthood would then become a substantive knighthood.

4: Sir Alex Ferguson - Soccer


Throughout the year Ferguson has earned the reputation of being one of the best managers in England's soccer history. And he holds a special place in the heart of every Manchester United fan's heart. 

He was made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995 and was knighted in 1999.

Ferguson was named the Premier League Manager of the Year on 11 different occasions.

3: Sir Bradley Wiggins - Cycling

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10: Sir Bradley Wiggins CBE holds his Knighthood award after it was presented to him by Queen Elizabeth II at an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on December 10, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Bradley Wiggins, who won gold at the 2012 London Olympics and became the first British winner of the Tour de France, was knighted in 2013 for services to cycling.

Wiggins is a five-time Olympic champion and seven-time medalist spanning over four Games, and is tied with fellow cyclist Chris Hoy for the most Olympic medals won by a British athlete.

2: Sir Andy Murray - Tennis

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his girlfriend Kim Sears pose at Buckingham Palace on October 17, 2013 in London, England. Murray was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by Paul Rogers - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

Andy Murray, a three-time Grand Slam winner, was awarded his knighthood in 2017 following his second Wimbledon win and second Olympic gold medal.

The tennis legend was awarded the honor by Prince Charles at an investiture ceremony in 2019.

1: Sir Lewis Hamilton - Motorsports

Mercedes' British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor (Knighthood) for services to motorsports, by the Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, during a investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on December 15, 2021. - Lewis Hamilton received his knighthood on Wednesday as the British driver comes to terms with controversially losing the Formula One world title. (Photo by Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MATTHEWS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton is one of the most recent athletes to be honored with knighthood. Lewis was knighted in 2020 after matching Michael Schumacher’s record of seven F1 World Championship titles.

He was knighted by the Prince of Wales, becoming just the fourth F1 driver to receive the honor after Sir Jackie Stewart in 2001, Sir Stirling Moss in 2000 and Sir Jack Brabham in 1979.

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