“One of my heroes… is a tennis player:” Female Athletes and Feminism’s Second Wave

This project explores the issue of women in sports during feminism’s Second Wave that resulted in the passage of Title IX. Some of the earliest issues of Ms. magazine welcomed the sporting woman and recognized that female athletes were at the forefront of women’s liberation. Writers advocated equality for women in sport, redefined female beauty as strong, muscular and athletic, and celebrated the achievements of female sports heroes.

Sportswriter Janice Kaplan explains how society once pushed girls and women to be ashamed of their athletic abilities. But as female athletes such as Billie Jean King rose to nation-wide fame, women’s athletic mindsets expanded to a new, revolutionary image. King launched this transformation with her win over Bobby Riggs in the famed “Battle of the Sexes,” which poet Nikki Giovanni would reflect on later in her poem “Mirrors.” Title IX, passed in 1972, further contributed to the growth of women in sports as the law prohibited discrimination against girls and women in educational and athletic programs.

-Ryan Pruss


Links to Posts (in order):

Female Sports Before the 2nd Wave

The Guide to Title IX

Societal Pressures on Female Sports

“The New Image” of Female Bodies

The Hero of the Female Sports Movement: Billie Jean King

“Mirrors (for Billie Jean King)” by Nikki Giovanni

Works Cited