Real Madrid football star Cristiano Ronaldo is the biggest name in sports, according to an ESPN ranking list.

ESPN's annual World Fame 100 lists the biggest sporting names based on search score, endorsements and social following.

Ronaldo has topped the list for the third straight year beating out NBA player LeBron James and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

12 women made the list with Serena Williams the highest ranked in 12th position. The athletes are made up from 15 different sports with the most coming from football with 33 in the 100.

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No New Zealanders made the list with golfer Lydia Ko previously ranked 81st in the 2016 edition.

Ronaldo tops the list in the social followers with 121.7m, well ahead of fellow footballer Neymar with 90.2m. Messi is next with 88.1m, more than double than fourth-placed James with 40.8m.

James is however paid the most in endorsements, topping US$55m in the last year which is on top of his $31m salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Golfer Phil Mickelson is second on the endorsements list with $50m after winning his first tournament in five years in March. Tiger Woods earns $45m in endorsements in third place followed by tennis great Roger Federer ($40m) and Ronaldo ($40m).

The highest ranked athlete in search score is boxer Floyd Mayweather with a score of 196 as boxers held four of the top fivve spots in ranking.