Significant Events in Women's Sports History
Post-Title IX History

Fifty million television viewers watch Billie Jean King defeat Bobby Riggs in the "Challenge of the Sexes" tennis match. (1973)

The Association for Intercollegiate athletics for Women adopts legislation to permit the first college scholarships for women athletes. Today American women receive more than $180 million dollars each year in college athletic scholarships. (1973)

The U.S. Open is the first tennis tournament to offer equal prize money to men and women ($25,000). (1973)

The Women's Sports Foundation is established by Billie Jean King, its founder, Donna de Varona, a founding member and first president, and other champion female athletes to become a collective voice for women and girls in sport. (May 4,1974)

The first women's professional football league begins with a seven-team, 10-game schedule. Each player earns $25 a game. (1974)

Reporter Robin Herman is one of the first women to enter a male player's dressing room. The players, in this case, are not notified in advance. As a result of this event, the wives of the New York Rangers ask their husbands to petition to bar women from the players' locker room and the team members comply. (1975)

Karen Stead is the first girl to win a world championship at the All-American Soap Box Derby. (August 8, 1975)

The first women's rowing and basketball competitions take place in the Olympic Games. (1976)

Nadia Comaneci scores the first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics competition. (1976)

Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman driver in the Indianapolis 500. She goes on to complete the race three times. (May 29, 1977)

Judicial decision allows female sportswriters equal access to male athletes' locker rooms in the U.S. (September 25, 1978)

The Amateur Sports Act passes prohibiting gender discrimination in open amateur sport in the U.S. (1978)

UCLA's Ann Meyers is signed by the Indiana Pacers men's professional basketball team to try out at a free-agent camp. (1979)

Hundreds of American women are denied the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games when the United States decides to boycott the Moscow Games. (1980)

At the national Pitch, Hit and Run Championships, 11-year-old Crystal Fields defeats seven boys in the nine to 12-year-old age group to become the first girl to win the title. (1981)

The Supreme Court upholds that Title IX does cover employees (coaches, etc.) as well as students. (1982)

1,779,972 girls participate in high school sports. (1984)

The power of Title IX is limited by the Supreme Court's ruling in Grove City v. Bell. (1984)

Joan Benoit Samuelson wins the gold medal in the first official Olympic women's marathon. (1984)

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a 1,100-mile, 18-day trek from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, is captured for the first time by a woman, Libby Riddles. (1985)

After 55 grueling days, explorer Ann Bancroft reaches the North Pole by dogsled, becoming the first woman to do so. (May 1, 1986)

The first woman to play on an all-male professional basketball team, Lynette Woodard, scores seven points in her debut with the Harlem Globetrotters. (November 11, 1986)

During this year, Jackie Joyner-Kersee is the only female athlete to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated (aside from the swimsuit edition). (1987)

The Civil Rights Restoration Act passes -- puts the "teeth" back in Title IX. (1988)

Judith Davidson is named Athletic Director for Central Connecticut State University becoming the only woman A.D. at a Division I school, in charge of all sports including men's football and basketball. (1988)

Blind swimmer Tricia Zorn becomes the first athlete, male or female, to win 12 gold medals in a Paralympics competition. (1988)

The first girl to play in the Little League World Series, Victoria Brucker, does double duty at first base and as a pitcher and she bats clean-up for her team. (1989)

Jodi Haller becomes the first woman to pitch in a college baseball game as a member of Pennsylvania's St. Vincent College team. (1990)

Judith Sweet becomes the first woman president of the NCAA. (1991)

The U.S. women's soccer team wins the first-ever Women's World Cup. (1991)

The Supreme Court rules that monetary damages are available under Title IX in the Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public School case. (1992)

Jackie Joyner-Kersee becomes the first woman to win the heptathlon in consecutive Olympic Games. (1992)

Julie Krone becomes the first woman to win a triple-crown horse race when she wins the Belmont Stakes. (1993)

The Colorado Silver Bullets, the first women's professional baseball team to play in men's minor league baseball, play their first game. (1994)

Kendra Wecker, the first girl to compete in the national finals of the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick program, finishes second in the 12-year-old class, passing the football 130 feet, punting it 76'6", and placekicking
it 94'7". (January 8, 1995)

America3, the first all-women's team, competes in the America's Cup Race. They defeat perennial winner Dennis Connor in the first race of round one by 69 seconds. The crew, sailing "the Mighty Mary" is one of only three teams that makes it to the final round, eventually losing to Team Dennis Connor after taking a four-minute lead in the final race. (1995)

A record number of women competed in the 1996 Olympic Games - close to 1,000 more than in any previous Games - 3,684 women (34%) and 7,059 men (66%). Only the sports of boxing, modern pentathlon, weightlifting and wrestling remain male-only. The number of women has doubled in the past 12 years. (1996)

Soccer and Softball make their debuts in the Olympic Games. The U.S. women dominate the team competitions by winning the gold medals in basketball, gymnastics, soccer, softball and synchronized swimming.(1996)

Robin Roberts becomes the first woman to anchor a network NFL studio show. (1996)

In 1996-97, high school girls had their highest-ever sports participation rate of 2,472,043. (1997)

Basketball is high school girls' most popular sport, followed by outdoor track and field, volleyball and fast-pitch softball. Over 16,000 high schools (out of a total of 20,000) have girls' basketball teams (1997).

The American Basketball League begins play in 1996. This is the fourth attempt at a women's professional basketball league in the U.S. By 1997, the Women's National Basketball Association is formed and there are two leagues operating simultaneously. (1997)

The NBA hires its first female referees, Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer. (1997)

Women's ice hockey makes its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan. The U.S. team wins the first gold medal. (1998)

When the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) first began in 1950, the top purse was $15,000. In 1992, the average purse was $532,500, and in 1997, that number grew to $701,512. Total purses have grown from $21.3 million in 1992 (40 events) to $30.3 million in 1997(43 events). (1998)

Susie Maroney broke the world record for the longest non-stop open-water swim by swimming 129 miles from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, to Las Tombas, Cuba.(1998)

The U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup over China 1-0 in a shootout in front of more than 90,000 fans, an American television audience estimated at 40 million, and a worldwide television audience of one billion. (1999)

Cynthia Harrold became the first girl to wrestle in the Michigan state championships (103 lb., Division III).(1999)

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee, opened.(1999)

The LPGA celebrated its 50th anniversary (2000)

In Sydney, women competed for the first time in the same number of team sports as men. Additional sports for women include modern pentathlon, taekwondo, triathlon and weightlifting. Two more teams have been added to the handball and field hockey competitions. Trampoline
and women's water polo have been added as additional disciplines and cycling (500-meter track), shooting (ball trap and skeet) and synchronized swimming (duo) have been added as events (2000).

Venus Williams became the second African-American woman to win Wimbledon. Althea Gibson was the first in 1957 and 1958. Venus and her sister Serena also won the doubles. (2000)

On April 14, 2001 the Women’s United Soccer Association held it’s first game.

Ashley Martin became the first woman to play and score in a Division I football game, kicking three extra points in three tries for Jacksonville State against Cumberland.(2001)

The inaugural Women’s Amateur World Boxing Championships were held in Scranton, PA. The event drew more than 150 competitors from 35 nations.(2001)

The U.S. Women’s Polo League debuted in Palm Beach FL with a match between the Atlanta Fireballs and the Palm Beach Rubyspots.(2001)

Women's Sports Foundation Fact Database
National Federation of State High School Associations
International Olympic Committee
100 GREATEST Women in Sports (1976)
Encyclopedia of Women and Sports (1996)
Encyclopedia of Women and Sport in America (1998)
Grace & Glory: A Century of Women in the Olympics (1996)
Her Story in Sport: A Historical Anthology of Women in Sports (1982)
The Book of Women's Firsts (1992)
Women in Sport: The Complete Book on the World's Greatest Female
Athletes (1997)
Women in Sport: Issues and Controversy (1993)