The Fascinating and Inspiring Evolution of Women’s Sports


Back in the 19th century, women were idealized for their modesty, and their part in sports viewed as a threat to their fertility. This thinking was backed up by medical authorities of the time who believed that too much study or, god forbid, activities like riding a bicycle, can leave a young lady infertile.

Only a few women’s colleges and country clubs of that time had seen women in sports mildly acceptable. It included sports like croquet, tennis, and beauty-swimming. Why so? Because these sports required elaborate outfits, ones that show femininity and pure beauty instead of aggression or a burning desire (political or personal) to dominate the opponent.

However crude, this standard persisted for centuries before the first woman was ever allowed to participate in the Olympics.

The first great breakthrough

Back in 1900, at the Paris Olympics, only 22 women were competing among 997 enlisted athletes. To put into perspective, that’s merely 2.2% percent.

Hélène de Pourtalès (Switzerland) was the first female Olympic champion. She was the member of the winning team in the one-to-two ton sailing event.

Tennis and golf were the only disciplines at the time in which women could individually compete. Although there were earlier attempts in these disciplines, this was the first time that women could officially compete for a medal at the Olympics. Margaret Abbott was the first woman golfer to win gold at the Olympics, however, instead of a medal, she was awarded a gilded porcelain bowl. It represents how much the male-dominated Committee was appalled by the idea of women competing in the Olympics.

But it doesn’t stop there. Margaret never knew she was competing in the Olympics. She thought she was contesting in a typical event and did not realize what she achieved. It was only later in history that her name was discovered and presented to the public.

Women sports have evolved

It’s no longer a man’s world. Not when it comes to sports and athletics.

Women today have professional leagues, and we’re seeing more young women taking on various sports disciplines as the years pass. Although they still face obstacles on the field, court and their professional career as athletes, they make great wins that inspire women throughout the world.

One such story was of a tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs back in 1973, and the game was dubbed “Battle of the Sexes” for a reason. Back then, Billie Jean agreed to a tennis match with Bobby Riggs, who was a three-time World Champion in tennis. Billie won three consecutive games against Riggs in a contest viewed by ninety million people. It was considered the first breakthrough in acceptance of female athletes at the time.

The pioneers made the way. Now it’s your turn.

The history of female athletes is filled with great, fascinating and inspiring stories. These pioneers and their great victories were the baby steps that shaped changes to not only sports but our view of women and their rightful place in the world. 

So now, whenever you get up, look yourself in the mirror, pick up your best gear and say “It’s my turn.” Inspyr is here to inspire you, but also remind you to give your best to inspire those around you. Then, more inspiration will come back your way, we promise!

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