Tourischeva began gymnastics in 1965 and began competing for the Soviet team as early as in 1967. Coached by Vladislav Rastorotsky (who later trained Natalia Shaposhnikova and Natalia Yurchenko), she represented the USSR at the 1968 Summer Olympics just after her sixteenth birthday, sharing the gold medal with the USSR team and placing 24th in the all-around.
Two years later Tourischeva would become the leader of the Soviet team. From 1970 to 1974 she dominated almost every major international competition, winning the World Championships all-around gold in 1970 and 1974, the European Championships in 1971 and 1973 and the World Cup in 1975. She was considered to embody the classic Soviet style: grace, elegance, impeccable form and strong technique.
At the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Tourischeva was a medal favorite, but found herself overshadowed by the sudden popularity of her telegenic compatriot Olga Korbut. After Korbut faltered on the uneven bars, however, Tourischeva won the all-around gold medal. She was less successful in the event finals, qualifying for all four, but winning only a silver and a bronze. Tourischeva was one of the first female gymnasts to use two separate pieces of music for her floor exercise routines at an international competition. For the team competition there was March from movie Circus by Isaak Dunaevsky, while for the all around - the music to the film Die Frau meiner Träume by Franz Grothe.
At the 1975 European Championships, Tourischeva lost the all-around competition, placing third to thirteen-year old Nadia Comăneci, who also won the vault, bars, and beam apparatus finals. Tourischeva's teammate, Nellie Kim, placed second and won the floor exercise competition. Nevertheless, Tourischeva rebounded later that year to sweep the World Cup.
After struggling with a back injury, Tourischeva competed in her third Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976, winning her third team gold with the Soviet squad. In the all-around she finished third behind Romania's Comăneci and her teammate Kim. Although Tourischeva lost to Kim on both vault and floor exercise in the event finals, she overcame Comăneci on them and won silver medals, bringing her total Olympic medal count to four gold, three silver and two bronze.In 1980, British journalist David Hunn wrote of Tourischeva, "(she) never had the cheek of some of her rivals, but for serenity she was supreme." This was famously illustrated during the 1975 World Cup at Wembley Stadium in London, when a broken hook holding support cables of the uneven bars caused the apparatus to fall apart and crashed to the ground, just as Tourischeva landed her dismount. Saluting the judges, she calmly walked off the podium without even turning around to look at the remains of the apparatus. She went on to win the all-around and every single event final gold. Years later, she said of the incident that at that moment she remembered only one thing - she must complete her routine and "stick it". Her trainer Vladislav Rastorotsky said about her: "Ljudmila would fight to death in any situation".
Tourischeva was also known for her gracious demeanor. At the 1976 Olympics, she walked around the podium to personally congratulate champion Nadia Comăneci and shake her hand before accepting her own medal.
In 1977, she married the sprinter Valeriy Borzov, a two-time Olympic champion in 1972. She was elected to the Women's Artistic Gymnastics Technical Committee of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) in 1981 Tourischeva has remained involved in gymnastics as a coach, an international judge and an official with the Ukrainian gymnastics federation. One of her proteges was Lilia Podkopayeva, the 1996 Olympic all-around gold medalist.
Tourischeva has received many honors for her contributions to gymnastics, including the Women In Sport trophy by the International Olympic Committee. In 1998 she was inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
Ludmilla Tourischeva is 1 of only 2 women (Yelena Shushunova being the other) who have won the grand slam of All-Around titles: Olympics, World Championships, World Cup, European Championships.