The annual list, which is not ranked, honours individuals who have had the most significant impact on the global landscape that year and includes heads of state, business leaders, activists and entertainers, among others.
The athletes on the US magazine’s list have enjoyed sporting success as well as promoting other causes.
Rapinoe has fought for gender pay equity in soccer while Osaka has supported the Black Lives Matter movement.
Osaka wore a mask bearing the name of a different Black American before each match at the US Open, where she clinched the title, in support of the fight against racial injustice in the United States.
Four-times Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) champion and twice Olympic gold medalist Maya Moore, who skipped two seasons of her sport to fight for criminal justice reform in the United States, was also named on the list and penned Osaka’s tribute.
“Watching Naomi Osaka play the US Open, I was inspired by how beautifully she wove her dominant athletic performance into another narrative,” wrote Moore.
“It took humility and grace to point beyond what she was doing, winning on one of the biggest stages in her craft, at something more important.”
Other athletes named on the list included six-times Olympic gold medal-winning sprinter Allyson Felix, six-times world champion Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, retired 13-times NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade and back-to-back NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.