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50 Women in Sport


With an overview of the history of women in sport, by Sport Historian Professor Jean Williams, this book celebrates our female sports pioneers and legends as well as featuring insightful interviews with over 25 women in sport today. Full colour illustrated hardback.




by sports historian Professor Jean Williams & Paralympic coach Gemma Lumsdaine

Provides a fascinating overview of the history of women in sport from centuries past to the present day, demonstrating the leaps forward that sportswomen have taken since 1945, as well as an inspiring account of great female Paralympians.

The 25 profiles of incredible female pioneers and legends evidence the grit and determination required to challenge discrimination, to break records and demolish outdated notions of the weaker sex. The recent investment in women’s sports, as seen for football, rugby and cricket, has driven greater popularity and success.

This book also includes a wonderful selection of interviews with over 25 women competing in a wide range of sports today, as well as leading figures in the industry, coaches, referees, presenters, and broadcasters.

“A lovely tribute to so many incredible women in sport. A great and inspiring read.”
– Alison Kervin, Sports Writer

Listen to the podcast about the book on The Netball Show with Andy Lamb and Pamela Cookey. S6 Ep99: 50 Women in Sport (01st October 2022) – The Netball Show | Podcast on Spotify

The book includes the profiles of women sports pioneers:

Toni Stone
Althea Gibson
Barbara Buttrick
Larisa Latynina
Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz
Junko Tabei
Billie Jean King
Jayne Torvill
Luan Jujie
Nawal El Moutawakel
Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Natalia Molchanova
Lisa Leslie
Cathy Freeman
Ellen MacArthur
Serena Williams
Janica Kostelić
Megan Rapinoe
Rachael Blackmore
Saina Nehwal
Nicola Adams
Laura Kenny
Fu Yuanhui
Simone Biles

With colour photos and over 25 exclusive interviews with contemporary women in sport including:

Chemmy Alcott, ex-downhill skier and TV sports presenter, UK

Cat Carr, ex-basketball player, and WBBL Player of the Year, USA

Ellie Challis, paralympian swimmer, UK

Pamela Cookey, ex-netball player and TV sports presenter, UK

Alice Dearing, swimmer, UK and co-founder Black swimmers initiative, UK

Tracy Edwards, sailor and co-founder of Girls sailing initiative, UK

Menna Fitzpatrick, paralympian alpine skier, UK

Dame Katherine Grainger, ex-rower and Chair of UK Sport

Steph Houghton, England footballer and captain, UK

Meg Jones & Celia Quansah, England Rugby Sevens players, UK

Julie Kitchen, Muay Thai boxer and coach, UK

Meg Lanning, cricketer and captain, Australia

Gabby Logan, BBC sports presenter, UK

Yaroslava Mahuchikh, Ukrainian high-jumper

Eve Muirhead, Scottish curler, UK

Liz Nicholl, ex-netball player and President of World Netball, UK

Aries Susanti Rahayu, speed climber, Indonesia

Jawahir Roble, football referee, UK

Kate Shortman and Izzy Thorpe, synchronised swimmers, UK

Barbara Slater, ex-gymnast and head BBC Sport

Bianca Smith, baseball coach, USA

Zoe Smith, adaptive surfer, UK

Maria Toorpakai Wazir, ex-weightlifter and squash player, Pakistan

About the authors

Jean Williams is a British Professor in Sport History and author specialising in Women’s history; sport and literature; sportswear and motorsport. Having previously taught English for a decade, Williams is a senior research fellow at the International Centre for Sport History and Culture, De Montfort University. She also acts as a historical consultant to the National Football Museum, particularly for elections to the English Football Hall of Fame.[7] Though mainly known for her work on women’s football, Williams has produced a range of material on the history of sports and the social contexts of events: these include articles on a collection of early modern sporting poems and 1950s British Bridge to a chapter on the Indianapolis 500 motor race in the United States. Williams has also looked at women’s motor racing for a special edition on Britain’s motorists published in 2014. In terms of public history, Williams is very interested in the midlands, writing of Leicestershire cricketer George Geary for Our Sporting Life, an exhibition held at Curve Theatre in February 2011.

She is a lifelong supporter of Leicester City Football Club.

Williams is author of A Game For Rough Girls: A History of Women’s Football in England (Routledge 2003) and A Beautiful Game: International Perspectives on Women’s Football (Berg 2007). Her main projects for 2010-11 include a research monograph called A Contemporary History of Women’s Sport (Routledge Research, 2011) and a 17,000 Euro UEFA-funded project Women’s Football, Europe and Professionalization 1971-2011. She is also writing a history of Britain’s Women Olympians 1900-2012. In 2012 the Oxford DNB will publish articles on Leicester swimmer Jennie Fletcher and St Helen’s footballing prodigy Lily Parr, for example. Williams has acted as consultant to sports organisations, including FIFA, and for the media, including the BBC Nation on Film Series and Edwardian Farm. She has also appeared on the BBC Radio 4 history comedy series ‘You’re Dead To Me’ alongside Greg Jenner and Tom Parry as a football historian.

Gemma Lumsdaine is a 23-year-old wheelchair athlete from Monifieth, who is a member of the GB Wheelchair Rugby Talent Squad which helps to prepare athletes to make the step to the Paralympic Squad. Gemma is also in the Scottish Disability Sport Athlete Academy.

Prior to competing in wheelchair rugby Gemma played wheelchair basketball at a national level. She also coaches wheelchair sports for Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Sports Club and won the COVA Young Coach of the Year in 2018.

As well as being an athlete and coach Gemma sits on the Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board and has been a member of the Scottish Disability Sport Young People’s Panel. She now supports and mentors the newly formed board.

During the pandemic, Gemma worked tirelessly to provide support and engagement opportunities for people with a disability, which included weekly workout sessions and talks by Paralympians. She also runs workshops and delivers training on areas related to disability sport, mental health and wellbeing. Gemma has spoken at conferences and events about issues relating to disability and inclusion and has been recognised as one of the most inspirational young women in Scotland by the YWCA. Gemma has recently completed a degree in Sports Development and Coaching at Abertay University and hopes this will help to progress her career in disability sport.

“Being involved in disability sport has been life changing for me. I really hope I can help more people with disabilities to become active, as I know first-hand how beneficial participating in sport and/or physical activity can be for both your physical and mental health.”