7 Times Women in Sports Fought for Equality


On Friday, all 28 players on the United States women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, an escalation in their increasingly public battle for equality. The players have said that they play more games than the men’s team — and win more of them — yet still receive less pay. They said “institutionalized gender discrimination” affected not only their paychecks, but also where they played and how often, how they trained, the medical care and coaching they received, and even how they traveled to matches.

They are not alone in their fight for fairer pay and better treatment. Here are seven times in recent memory when women fought for equality in sports. The year 1973 was a big one for Billie Jean King, the trailblazing tennis star. She founded the Women’s Tennis Association. She led a movement for female players to earn equal prize money in tournaments that featured players of both sexes.

And, on a September night at the Astrodome in Houston, she epitomized her crusade for gender equality when she handily beat Bobby Riggs, a self-described male chauvinist pig, in the Battle of the Sexes. King went on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 for her work championing the rights of women and gay people. She is considered to be one of the most important athletes of the 20th century.

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