She not only became a model for young people into what sporting is about, but also took a stance and a leadership role in issues that she believed in.
Over the years, tennis has been the main promoter of women in sports as team sports have not been up to the pace with single sports. Although the number of women participating in Olympics has grown substantially in the last 20 years and public becomes more and more interested in women's sports, the level of media consumption is still very low, as pointed before. Team sports, especially soccer and basketball have not raised to the performance that was predicted by feminist movements in the 1990s at a global level. The popularity of women team sports in sports like basketball and soccer has had an asymmetric growth in the last 20 years. Although dominated at the beginning by the U.S., Norway and China, new forces have appeared like Germany, Brazil, Japan, England and France, to mention just a few. Unfortunately unlike sports like handball or volleyball, soccer is still struggling with significant financial problems and also audience attraction.
Significant progress is nonetheless seen especially in Europe and also in Asia in what regards women handball, with large media coverage and interest on the topic, in some countries, higher than in man handball. Also volley is one of the team sports where women professional teams have done significantly well compared to other team sports.
Unfortunately, when comparing the developed countries' index on sport performance with the large number of underdeveloped countries, striking differences appear in women that do sports, either professionally or as an amateur.
Apart from all of the above, significant progress has been made in achieving equal treatment for women and men in sports, yet much remains to be done. It seems easier for women emancipation in sports to continue with individual sports like athletics or tennis, where the four grand slams offer the same amount of prize money to man and women, valuing their performance and entertainment qualities in the same manner. Crucial developments are still needed in low developed countries where sport can become one of the main tools in the fight for basic human rights and freedom of expression, as sports leaders can offer a role model and draw the attention of the world of home affairs.
The overall contribution of sports to gender equality is obvious and will continue to have a profound impact on the way women are seen not only by men, but also by the female population on the whole. Besides the proven health and brain development, it is imperative that more and more young people, be them boys or girls, practice sports in their primary school as this has a high impact on how children develop into adults. Team work, vision, leadership, courage or hope are characteristics that are best understood and embraced while taking sport classes or being enrolled in a semi-professional sports association. The adults of tomorrow, be them in the U.S., Africa, Asia or Europe, need to start focusing on physical exercise as modern life pushes the human body to extreme pressures that only a prepared person will be able to handle on the long run -- be it physical endurance but most of all the power to understand the various things that life has in common with sports: patience, will and hard work.
Cassel, J. (2011) Gender Discrimination in Sports. Available at http://www.livestrong.com/article/247625-gender-discrimination-in-sports/#ixzz1Xlv48Y9L
Huggins A. And Randell S. (2007) The Contribution of Sports to Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment, Paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Equity on Sports for Social Change (Kigali)
Government of Western Australia (2010) Federal Minister speaks out about women's sport coverage. Available at http://www.dsr.wa.gov.au/federal-minister-speaks-out-about-womens-sport-coverage
Messner, M. And Cooky, C. (2010) Gender in Televised Sports. Center for Feminist Research, University of Southern California. Available at http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/research/articles-and-reports/media-issues/women-play-sports-but-not-on-tv
Scanlon, T. (2004) Games for Girls, Archaeological Institute of America, available at http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/olympics/girls.html
United Nations (2007) Women, Gender Equality and Sport Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, available at http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/public/Women%20and%20Sport.pdf
Women's Sports Foundation . Pay Inequity in Athletics. Available at http://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/home/research/articles-and-reports/equity-issues/pay-inequity