By the late 1800s women were playing a variety of sports, from golf to basketball.
Tennis was actually introduced to the United States by Mary Outerbridge, who learned to play it in Bermuda in 1874.
The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association held its first women’s singles championship in 1887. African American players were excluded from this event, so they created their own tournament, beginning in 1917.
Women began playing baseball in the early 1860s, and by the 1890s touring women’s teams, called “bloomer girls” because of their outfits—took on local men’s teams.
One of the best-known bloomer girls was pitcher Maud Nelson, who also played third base. She went on to set up several women’s teams, such as the All Star Ranger Girls.
“It is worth the price of admission alone to see Miss Nelson, the phenomenal pitcher,” an Oregon paper proclaimed in 1897.
“Bloomer girls,” members of the Young Ladies Base Ball Club No. 1, of West Franklin, Massachusetts, pose for their 1890-91 team photo. Their striped outfits feature the bloomers that gave such teams their nickname.
Among middle-class and wealthy women, bicycling was a popular form of exercise in the 1880s and 1890s.