Women's Sports Foundation

Last updated
Women's Sports Foundation
Womens sports foundation.png
Founder Billie Jean King
Type501(c)3 charitable educational foundation
Focusto advance the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity
  • 247 West 30th Street
    5th Floor
    New York, New York 10001
MethodSports advocacy, girls' and women's health, educational projects, grant making, research
Key people
Chief Executive Officer
Deborah Antoine

Co-chairs of the Board
Sandra Vivas and Madeline Weinstein


Grete Eliassen, Skiing
15 [1]
Website www.womenssportsfoundation.org

The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) is an 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit charity focused on female involvement in sports. Founded in 1974 by tennis player Billie Jean King and initially supported by Olympic athletes Donna de Varona and Suzy Chaffee, its stated mission statement is "To advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity." [2]

Billie Jean King American tennis player

Billie Jean King is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships. She often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, she was the United States' captain in the Federation Cup.

Donna de Varona American swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, former world record-holder, television sportscaster

Donna de Varona Pinto, née Donna Elizabeth de Varona, is an American former competition swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, former world record-holder, and television sportscaster.

Suzy Chaffee former Olympic alpine ski racer

Suzanne Stevia "Suzy" Chaffee is a former Olympic alpine ski racer and actress. Following her racing career, she modeled in New York with Ford Models and then became the pre-eminent freestyle ballet skier of the early 1970s. She is perhaps best known by the nickname, Suzy Chapstick, from the 1970s, when she was a spokesperson for ChapStick lip balm.


The Women's Sports Foundation was legally set up in 1974 by Billie Jean King, her business manager Jim Jorgensen, and her then-husband Larry King. The Foundation was originally supported by Olympic medalist Donna de Varona and Olympic skier Suzy Chaffee.

Jim Jorgensen American businessman

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Larry King is an American attorney, real estate broker, promoter, bridge player, one of the founders of World Team Tennis, and the ex-husband of former World No. 1 professional tennis player Billie Jean King.

In 1972 and in 1973 Billie Jean was awarded the Bob Hope Calvalcade of Sports for the "Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year". In 1974, she donated her winnings of $5,000 to incorporate the Women's Sports Foundation. Simultaneously, she started a new magazine titled womenSports .


womenSports magazine was the first magazine dedicated to women in sports. It was launched in close conjunction with Billie Jean King's Women's Sports Foundation and each issue of the magazine contained a two-page article written by the executive director of the Foundation.

The WSF began its multi-sport emphasis at the 1975 ABC TV show Women’s Superstars which was held at the Houston Astrodome. It was there that Donna de Varona working as an ABC Billie Jean King invited the women athlete contestants to join in on the effort.

Astrodome Round, domed stadium in Houston, Texas

The NRG Astrodome, also known as the Houston Astrodome or simply the Astrodome, is the world's first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium, located in Houston, Texas. Construction on the stadium began in 1962, and it officially opened in 1965. It served as home to the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball (MLB) from its opening in 1965 until 1999, and the home to the Houston Oilers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1968 until 1996, and also the part-time home of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1971 until 1975. Additionally, the Astrodome was the primary venue of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo from 1966 until 2002. When opened, it was named the Harris County Domed Stadium and was nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World".

For ten years, from 1976 to 1986, under the direction of Executive Director, Eva Auchincloss and Associate Director Holly Turner and the Chairwoman Billie Jean King, the Board of Trustees was expanded to include Olympian Peggy Fleming, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, and Vice-President of Bristol-Myers Marvin Koslow, David Foster, CEO of Colgate Palmolive. In 1979, Donna de Varona was appointed the first president of the Foundation. Under the leadership of Executive Director Eva Auchincloss and her team, the foundation grew from an organization with $500 in the bank to one with a $1M endowment and an operating budget of $1M.

Peggy Fleming American figure skater

Peggy Gale Fleming is an American former figure skater. She is the 1968 Olympic Champion in Ladies' singles and a three-time World Champion (1966–1968). Fleming has been a television commentator in figure skating for over 20 years, including several Winter Olympic Games.

<i>Peanuts</i> Comic strip by Charles M. Schulz

Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz that ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. Peanuts is among the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it "arguably the longest story ever told by one human being". At its peak in the mid- to late 1960s, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of around 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages. It helped to cement the four-panel gag strip as the standard in the United States, and together with its merchandise earned Schulz more than $1 billion.

Charles M. Schulz American cartoonist

Charles Monroe "Sparky" Schulz, was an American cartoonist and creator of the comic strip Peanuts. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, cited by cartoonists including Jim Davis, Bill Watterson, Matt Groening, and Stephan Pastis.

In 1990, in recognition of Billie Jean's long standing efforts to promote the rights of women, Life magazine named King one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century",[5] in part because of her promotion of sports for women such as the Women's Sports Foundation.

Women's Sports Foundation advocates equal opportunity for girls and women's sports in the United States and around the world.

Past presidents include Donna de Varona, Carol Mann, Lyn St. James, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Wendy Hilliard, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Nancy Lieberman, Julie Foudy, Dawn Riley, Dominique Dawes, Aimee Mullins, Jessica Mendoza, Laila Ali, Angela Ruggiero, and Angela Hucles. The current president is Grete Eliassen and the current Board of Trustees Chair is Sandra Vivas.

Carol Mann professional golfer

Carol Mann was an American professional golfer. She became a member of the LPGA Tour in 1961 and won two major championships and 38 LPGA Tour events in all. She is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Lyn St. James American race car driver, race car driver

Lyn St. James is an American former racecar driver. She competed in the IndyCar series, with eleven CART and five Indy Racing League starts to her name. St. James is one of nine women who have qualified for the Indianapolis 500, and became the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. She also has two class victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and won the GTO class, partnering with Calvin Fish and Robby Gordon, at the 1990 12 Hours of Sebring. Additionally she has competed in endurance racing in Europe, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Nürburgring; in the latter, her AMC Spirit team, which included racer/actor James Brolin, placed first and second in class in 1979.

Nancy Hogshead-Makar American swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, lawyer, professor

Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., née Nancy Lynn Hogshead, is an American swimmer who represented the United States at the 1984 Summer Olympics, where she won three gold medals and one silver medal. She is currently the CEO of Champion Women, an organization leading targeted efforts to advocate for equality and accountability in sport. Focus areas include equal play, such as traditional Title IX compliance in athletic departments, sexual harassment, abuse and assault, as well as employment, pregnancy, and LGBT discrimination. In 2012 she began working on legislative changes to assure club and Olympic sports athletes were as protected from sexual abuse. In 2018, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and SafeSport Authorization Act was finally enacted.

Current initiatives and programs

Sports 4 Life: In October 2014, the Women’s Sports Foundation, with support from espnW, launched “Sports 4 Life” a national effort to increase the participation and retention of African-American and Hispanic girls, ages 11–18, in developmental youth sports programs. Through education, public awareness and grants to organizations nationwide, Sports 4 Life seeks to effect sustainable improvement to the overall health and development of girls in these communities.

The Travel & Training Fund: The Women's Sports Foundation (WSF) was the first — and only — charitable organization to offer grants to aspiring women athletes with elite potential when it established the grant almost 30 years ago. The Travel & Training Fund provides direct financial assistance to aspiring athletes – in individual and team sports. Travel & Training grants allow serious female athletes a chance to fulfill their potential on the regional, national or international level through assistance for coaching, specialized training, equipment, athletic attire, and/or travel. Since 1984, WSF awarded grants to more than 1300 individual athletes and teams – including figure skaters Michelle Kwan and Rachael Flatt, diver Mary Ellen Clark, ski jumper Alissa Johnson, swimmer Mallory Weggemann and the US National Water Polo Team. The T&T Fund is supported by contributions by donors and WSF national sponsor Gatorade.

GoGirlGo!: The Women’s Sports Foundation’s GoGirlGo! works across the country to improve the health of sedentary girls and to keep girls involved in physical activity. We get girls moving not through direct service, but by supporting programs and organizations that work with girls. GoGirlGo! identifies and weaves together quality resources within each community and provides comprehensive support through education, funding, public awareness and networking.

It Takes A Team: Originally called The Project to Eliminate Homophobia in Sport, It Takes A Team! started in 1996, enabled by fundraising efforts by tennis legend, Martina Navratilova. The Project to Eliminate Homophobia in Sport was a collaborative effort among the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Gay and Lesbian Education Network, the Ms. Foundation, Uncommon Legacy and ASTRAEA. Under the leadership of Lisa Dawn Thompson, the project developed a comprehensive educational kit which was first released in 2002. In 2005, Pat Griffin became director of It Takes A Team! and is continuing the project’s commitment developing and disseminating high quality educational materials promoting sports equality for all.

Research and Resource Center

SHARP, the Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls, was established in 2010 as a new partnership between the Women’s Sports Foundation and the University of Michigan's School of Kinesiology and Institute for Research on Women & Gender. SHARP's mission is to lead research that enhances the scope, experience, and sustainability of participation in sport, play, and movement for women and girls. Leveraging the research leadership of the University of Michigan with the policy and programming expertise of the Women's Sports Foundation, findings from SHARP research will better inform public engagement, advocacy, and implementation to enable more women and girls to be active, healthy, and successful. [3]

The Women’s Sports Foundation Library and Resource Center contains a large collection of books, magazines, articles, photographs, films, videos, and artifacts. [4]

Women's Sports Hall of Fame

In October 2006, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and the Sports Museum of America announced the establishment of the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center. The museum opened in May 2008 and closed in February 2009.

Award ceremonies

Annual Salute to Women in Sports

The Annual Salute to Women in Sports celebrates the achievement of female athletes across all sports. Held in October at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, the Annual Salute features a cast of celebrities, champion athletes and supporters of girls and women in sports. The fundraising gala is a charitable fundraising event with proceeds benefiting the Foundation's grants, research, educational and advocacy-related programming.

The Sportswoman of the Year Award - Team and Individual, the Billie Jean King Contribution Award and the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award are presented during the gala. The Sportswoman of the Year Awards are voted on by the public. Prior to its debut at Cipriani in 2011, the Annual Salute was held at the Waldorf–Astoria and Marriott Marquis hotels in New York City.

Wilma Rudolph Courage Award

ANNIKA Inspiration Award

Yolanda L. Jackson Give Back Award

Darlene Kluka Award

  • 2001: Dr. Barbara Drinkwater
  • 2003: Dr. Mary Jo Kane
  • 2005: Dr. Kari Fasting
  • 2006: Dr. Gertrud Pfister
  • 2007: Dr. Celia Brackenridge
  • 2008: Dr. Ellen Staurowsky
  • 2009: Dr. Anneliese Goslin
  • 2010: Dr. Don Sabo [10]
  • 2011: Dr. Carole Oglesby
  • 2012: Dr. Vivian Acosta & Dr. Linda Carpenter
  • 2017: Professor Maria Beatriz Rocha Ferreira

The Billie Awards

The Billie Awards (also known as The Billies) was an annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles, California first held by the Women's Sports Foundation in 2006. [11]

Flo Hyman Award

The Flo Hyman Memorial Award was conferred annually between 1987 and 2004.

International Women's Sports Hall of Fame

The International Women's Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1980, to give recognition to female athletes who have made history in women’s sports. The International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame recognizes the athletic achievements of those who have competed at least 25 years prior to the present year in the Pioneer category. Athletes whose accomplishments came within the past 25 years are inducted into the Contemporary category. Selections are made worldwide and are based on achievements, breakthroughs, innovative style and ongoing commitment to the development of women’s sports. [12]

See also


  1. Women's Sports Foundation Charity Report. Give.org. Better Business Bureau, June 2006.
  2. About Us - Women's Sports Foundation
  3. The Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls
  4. Collection: Women’s Sports Foundation Library webpage. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  5. 1 2 Hock, Lindsay. 2010 Annual Salute to Women in Sports Archived 2010-10-20 at the Wayback Machine . WSF official website. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  6. Wilma Rudolph Courage Award webpage. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  7. ANNIKA Inspiration Award webpage. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  8. 1 2 3 "ANNIKA Inspiration Award". Women's Sports Foundation. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  9. Yolanda L Jackson Give Back Award. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  10. Darlene A. Kluka Women's Sports and Physical Activity Research Award webpage. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2010-10-15.
  11. "Billies Awards Smash-Hit on West Coast Scene". lasplash.com. 2008-05-26.
  12. International Women's Sports Hall of Fame webpage. Women's Sports Foundation official website. Retrieved 2013-5-3.

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