|Founder||Billie Jean King|
|Type||501(c)3 charitable educational foundation|
|Focus||to advance the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity|
|Method||Sports advocacy, girls' and women's health, educational projects, grant making, research|
|Chief Executive Officer|
Co-chairs of the Board
Grete Eliassen, Skiing
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."
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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", 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.
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.
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.
The Women’s Sports Foundation Library and Resource Center contains a large collection of books, magazines, articles, photographs, films, videos, and artifacts.
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.
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.
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.
The Flo Hyman Memorial Award was conferred annually between 1987 and 2004.
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.