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Five events, five athletes moving the chains 2000-2010

December 27, 2010 – 11:21 AM

By Rachael Goldenberg

OK, 2000-2010 is 11 years but rather than quibble with the definition of a decade, let’s consider the strides female athletes have made.  The first years of this new century have pushed at barriers.

Female athletes have challenged conventional beliefs – beliefs about what they are capable of achieving and where they fit in the sports landscape. Whether the matter was physical limitations or physical appearances; how women should comport themselves or be valued in a male-dominated sports world, female athletes have
spurred debate and marched ahead. And it’s only the start.

Here are five key events and five key people. We welcome your additions to the list!


1. Annika Sorenstam tees off on the PGA Tour

In 2003, Sorenstam became the first women in 58 years to play in a PGA Tour event when she teed off at the Bank of America Colonial in Fort Worth, TX. She barely missed the cut after a superb Day 1 performance, demonstrating that women can play with men.

2. Paula Radcliffe sets women’s marathon world record

Running in the 2003 London Marathon, Radliffe finished in 2:15:25, setting a women’s record – and putting to rest theories that women were not physiologically capable of breaking a 2:20 marathon. In 2003, Radcliffe was the fastest British marathon runner of the year — male or female.

3.  WUSA folds; WPS emerges

Launched after the grassroots support for Team USA’s 1999 World Cup victory, WUSA folded after only a few seasons. But in 2009, a better organized Women’s Professional Soccer league launched, revealing resilience and determination to sustain a women’s pro league that attracts the best players in the world.

4. Kelly Kulick becomes PBA’s first female champion

Kulick made history at the Tournament of Champions in 2010 when she threw 10 strikes in a dominating win to become the PBA’s first female champion, blowing away her male opponent.

5. UConn Women’s Basketball team breaks record for most consecutive NCAA basketball wins

The UConn Women’s Basketball team’s 89th consecutive win on December 21, 2010, effectively transferred the record for the longest winning streak in college basketball into the hands of women, overtaking the UCLA team of the 1970s and their 88 consecutive wins.


1. Danica Patrick

At the 2008 Indy Japan 300 Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy car race, and her continued success demonstrates that woman can not only compete in car racing, but they can win.

2. Dara Torres

Earning three silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 41 year-old Torres challenged the public’s perception of what age and motherhood mean for female athletes.

3. Marion Jones

Proving that female athletes can be just as controversial as men, Jones was stripped of her five Olympic medals after she admitted to using illegal performance enhancing drugs in 2008.

4. Caster Semenya

Semenya’s stunning 800m win at the 2009 Women’s World Championships spurred intense debate about her sex – and about how athletic governing bodies handle sex identity in competition.

5. The Williams Sisters

OK, they’re two people. But Venus and Serena’s continued dominance of women’s tennis has helped transform female athletes into simply athletes.

  1. One Response to “Five events, five athletes moving the chains 2000-2010”

  2. Just noticed a typo, (PGA instead of PBA), wonder how long it will be until this is actually a fact:

    ….(woman) made history at the Tournament of Champions in 20xx when she….in a dominating win to become the PGA’s first female champion, blowing away her male opponent.

    Also, I do not agree that Marion Jones belongs on this list. Stick to those who are paving the way for women in sports, not those that make it tougher for women to be seen as the legitimate athletes that they are. She’s a disgrace and to include her, to show that women can be as bad as the men, detracts from the rest of the story.

    By Elaine on Dec 28, 2010

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