Title IX was passed 40 years ago and it opened a world of opportunity to young girls interested in sports. From that year to this one, there have been many notable strides in the fight for equality for women in sports. In this timeline, some of those standout moments have been chronicled so that we may all measure just how far we’ve come, keeping in mind how far we still have to go.
1972: Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid.
1973: Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in Battle of the Sexes tennis match.
1974: The Women’s Sports Foundation was founded by tennis champion Billie Jean King.
1975: Professional football player Linda Jefferson, a running back for the Troopers, was named Women’s Sports magazine’s Athlete of the Year.
1976: The first women’s professional softball league was established.
1977: Lusia Harris-Stewart became the first woman ever drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA). She was picked up as the 137th pick by the New Orleans Jazz.
1978: Nancy Lopez won the Ladies Professional Golf Association Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year awards and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award. She appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
1979: The Department of Health, Education and Welfare issued a policy interpretation of Title IX that included a three-prong test to be considered in assessing an institution’s compliance to prove it is providing males and females equitable opportunities to play sports.
1980: Women’s sports became a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
1981: Pat Bradley won the US Women’s Open in golf.
1982: The first women’s NCAA championship was held in Los Angeles, California.
1983: Tamara McKinney received the World Cup in Alpine Skiing.
1984: American runner Joan Benoit Samuelson was the first woman to win the Olympic marathon in its inaugural year.
1985: Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
1986: The Women’s Professional Volleyball League was established.
1987: Under the Reagan administration, February 3, 1987 was designated National Women in Sports Day.
1988: Women’s judo was held for the first time in the Summer Olympic games.
1989: Tennis player Steffi Graf won the Grand Slam.
1990: The Sara Lee Corporation donated $6 million to the NCAA for women’s sports.
1991: Jockey Andrea Seefeldt was the first woman to win the Pennsylvania Derby.
1992: Kristi Yamaguchi won the Olympic Gold Medal for figure skating.
1993: Jackie Joyner Kersee’s world record of 7,291 points in the heptathlon set in Seoul still stands, and she has the top six performances in history.
1994: Professional skier Picabo Street became the first woman to win the downhill skiing World Cup.
1995: Following the recommendations of a Study Commission of the IOC Centennial Olympic Congress, a women and sport working group was established by the IOC President to advise the executive board on suitable policies to be implemented in this field.
1996: The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) was introduced to the world as the female athletes’ counterpart to the NBA.
1997 – Soccer player Mia Hamm was named the Women’s Sport Foundation Team Athlete of the Year.
1998 : Former Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt became the Associated Press Coach of the Year.
1999 : Sports Illustrated for Women was founded.
2000: In the Sydney Olympics, Venus Williams became only the second player to win Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles at the same Olympic Games.
2001: Notre Dame University’s Women’s Basketball team won the NCAA tournament.
2002: Lisa Boyer was the only woman volunteer assistant coach in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
2003: Serena Williams won the Australian Open (singles and doubles), NASDAQ Open, French Indoors and Wimbledon.
2004: Women’s Wrestling is introduced into the Olympics.
2005: American race car driver Danica Patrick was named Rookie of the Year for the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series.
2007: The Olympic Charter was amended to include, for the first time in history, an explicit reference to the need for work in this area: “The IOC encourages and supports the promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women.” Rule 2, paragraph 7, Olympic Charter in force as from 07.07.2007
2008: At the Beijing Games, Dara Torres became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympics taking home three silver medals.
2009: The Women’s Professional Soccer League was launched.
2010: ESPN launched espnW, a primary destination for women’s sports.
2011: Lindsey Vonn became the first Winter Youth Olympic Games Ambassador.
2012: Women from Qatar will participate in the Olympics for the first time, and women’s boxing will make its Olympic debut.
Sign up for the latest news on Team Fenom and women’s sports!