Nine ahead of their time
Before athletic ambition was considered ladylike and long before Title IX would help create equal access to sports opportunities, there were more than a few women who forged their own chances. Women such as Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won the 1931 AAU basketball championship, nabbed two gold medals and a silver in track at the 1932 Summer Olympics, and remains the only female golfer to make the cut of a PGA Tour event (1945's Los Angeles Open). Allen Guttmann, a professor at Amherst College and author of the book "Women's Sports: A History," says the female Babe was known to be "uncouth, vulgar, nasty." And good for her, we say. If Didrikson Zaharias were competing today, she'd be pimping sports drinks and sneakers as a worldwide icon. At the very least, her legacy of audacity and achievement -- much like the bold efforts of the nine women featured here -- laid the foundation for Title IX itself.
-- Alison Overholt, special to espnW