Milestone Timeline


Women’s sports weren’t covered for a long time and so the records are poor. The following dates track, to the best of our ability, the important milestones in women’s sports, particularly women’s collegiate tennis.

Lawn tennis is introduced in the United States by a woman, Mary Ewing Outerbridge of Staten Island, New York.

The United States National Lawn Tennis Association (later the USLTA and now the USTA) opens its membership to women.

The first intercollegiate tennis invitational for women is held at Bryn Mawr College. Radcliffe College’s Sarah Whittelsey wins the tournament. Wassar, Wellesley, and Smith Colleges turn down the invitation; many faculty members fear women cannot handle the competitive nature of sports.

The American Physical Education Association forms the Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA). The CWA sets separate standards for women’s physical education programs and discourages intercollegiate competition.

The first meeting of the Women’s Division of the National Amateur Athletic Foundation (NAAF). The group states its belief in “the spirit of play for its own sake” and continues to discourage intercollegiate competition among women.

“Sports Days” are the most widespread form of women’s collegiate competition. Women from different institutions play on the same team; scores are not recorded.

Intercollegiate competition grows through grassroots efforts. Helen Lewis begins conducting invitational tennis tournaments for college women at Washington University in St. Louis.

The first national intercollegiate tennis championship for women is held at Washington University, sponsored by the USLTA. Players enter as individuals rather than as a team; Darlene Hard of Pomona College wins the singles title.

The Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports (DGWS), formerly the Women’s Division of the NAAF, sets standards for intercollegiate competition but does not allow women’s athletic scholarships.

The DGWS forms the Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (CIAW) and begins offering national championships in many sports, including tennis.

The USLTA sponsors the first national team championship in women’s intercollegiate tennis. Trinity University wins the team title.

The CIAW becomes the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), the first autonomous governing body exclusively for women’s collegiate athletics. Â

On June 23, President Nixon signs into law Title IX of the Higher Education Act, banning gender bias in athletics at all educational institutions receiving federal assistance.

The AIAW allows universities to offer athletic scholarships to women.

The AIAW takes over sponsorship of the national women’s intercollegiate championships from the USTA and introduces head-to-head competition, replacing the point system.

Women’s share of university athletic budgets rises to nearly twenty percent, up from one percent in 1971. From 1971 to 1982 women’s participation in college athletics increases by nearly 150 percent.Â

Again in 1982
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) votes unanimously to expand its membership to women’s collegiate tennis coaches. Women players subsequently become participants in the ITA’s numerous tournaments, including the ITA Collegiate Grand Slam, its ranking system and awards programs.

The NCAA takes over governance of women’s collegiate athletics, bringing an end to the AIAW.

The ITA selects The College of William and Mary as the site for its Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame.

The NCAA elects Judy Sweet as its first female president.

The ITA Women’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame opens at the McCormack- Nagelsen Tennis Center on the campus of the College of William & Mary.