The women’s national soccer team celebrating after winning the 2019 FIFA World Cup
In the early 1970s, two significant events had a major effect on women’s sports
First, Title IX, a clause of the 1972 Federal Education Amendments, was signed into law on June 23, 1972. Groundbreaking at the time, it stated that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Although Title IX applies to a variety of programs, it has received the most attention for its impact on athletics, especially at the college sports level.
Second, in 1973 women broke away from the old, structured, male-controlled United States Tennis Association (USTA) and founded the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) to "create a better future for women's tennis," spearheaded by Billie Jean King. This innovative organization (which today we might call disruptive) has its origin in the 1970 Virginia Slims Invitation, the first women-only tournament which was held to protest the unfair distribution of prize money at tennis events. At the time, professional women tennis players earned about one-fifth the prize money of men. In fact, at the Pacific Southwest Championships which took place at the same time as the Virginia Slims Invitation, the pay discrepancy was even worse: an 8:1 ratio split in prize money awarded to men vs. women. Starting with nine players, the WTA now has more than 2,500 players from nearly 100 countries competing for $146 million in prize money. As its original tournament was sponsored by Virginia Slims, it really is true you've come a long way, baby!