WSF 50

WSF Celebrates 50 Years Alongside the Empire State Building

WSF Founder Billie Jean King provides remarks during 50th anniversary celebration at the Empire State Building. [Credit: Empire State Realty Trust] The Empire State Building lit up at night in WSF brand colors. [Credit: Bryan Smith]

On May 2, we at WSF celebrated our 50th anniversary with sports icon, social justice pioneer and WSF Founder, Billie Jean King, who led a ceremonial lighting of the iconic Empire State Building in WSF colors. Billie Jean was joined by WSF CEO, Danette Leighton and WSF President, Scout Bassett for the special event, where they shared remarks honoring 50 Years of Changing the Game in front of members of the media, several WSF Trustees, including Board Chair, Robin Harris and past Board Chair, Ilana Kloss, as well as WSF staff. We later joined SHE Media and Sportico at their WINNING Women and Sports Content Studio, where we held a celebratory toast for #WSF50.

Though we’ve been commemorating our 50th milestone throughout 2024, May 2 marked the official 50 years-to-the-date when Billie Jean founded WSF with a $5,000 check she won for being named the best female athlete of the year. Fast forward to today, and we are renowned for being one of the first organizations to recognize the powerful connection between sports, equity and society, and we’ve grown to be a champion of the entire women’s sports ecosystem, carrying out Billie Jean’s vision to pave a path to equity for girls and women both on and off the field of play.

Quickly after the passage of Title IX, the landmark law faced severe opposition and Billie Jean knew there needed to be an organization like WSF to fiercely fight to protect it, while amplifying the vital role of sports in society.

For five decades and counting, we’ve taken bold action, which has contributed to many transformative moments seen across women’s sports, as we’ve invested more than $100 million to help girls and women achieve their athletic dreams, while eliminating barriers that stand in the way, and our work is not done yet!

Sport is empowering the leaders of tomorrow, which is what fuels our fight for gender equity throughout the sports landscape. A recent Deloitte report found that 85% of women who played sports say the skills they developed while playing set them up for success in their professional careers. Our work to expand access and opportunities for girls and women in sport to help benefit society at large is why Vice President Kamala Harris chose WSF to co-host a recent event at the VPOTUS’s Residence to honor women in sports in celebration of Women’s History Month.

Leaders throughout the country are recognizing what we’ve known since 1974: when girls and women play, they lead, and we all win. And though great progress has been made, it is essential that we don’t lose ground.

It’s a pivotal time for women’s rights across the sports. From schools and universities continuing to be out of compliance with Title IX, as well as persistent gender pay gaps, inequitable sponsorship dollars and media rights deals for athletes, teams and leagues, it is clear to see our work is far from over and we need support now more than ever.

Equality in sport leads to equality in life. Help propel our work into the next 50 years by donating today!

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