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and legends evidence the grit and determination required to challenge discrimination, to break records and demolish outdated notions of the weaker sex.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

Come along to our book signing event with Chemmy Alcott (ex Olympic alpine ski racer) and Pamela Cookey (ex England Netball Captain) on 22 October, 3.30pm. Bookshop opening and book signing – 22 Oct, 3.30pm

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.”


‘Beginning with a fascinating overview of the history of women in sport, Gemma Lumsdaine’s 50 Women in Sport is a timely reference book. It catalogues the rise of women’s sport, featuring many famous sportswomen including Paralympians across a diverse range of sports. It contains profiles of twenty-five women, notably the recently retired Serena Williams and our very own Cathy Freeman. It is accompanied by many colourful photographs and interesting information about various female champions. It captures the remarkable legacy of multiple women in sports from many nationalities and has a handy Index, making it a fine resource that will inspire all readers and sports fans alike. The interviews of women athletes like Meg Lanning are insightful and make this a four and a half star read rating. My thanks to Supernova Books and the author, for an uncorrected advanced reader copy for review purposes. As always, the opinions herein are totally my own and freely given.’

-**** Michael B, reviewer NetGalley

’50 Women in Sport far exceeded what I was expecting. A few biographical sketches, some nice photographs, maybe a nice mix of sports and eras. Well, I got all that and more. This offers a wonderful short history of women in sport, highlighting the pioneers that many haven’t heard of as well as the more contemporary stars we have. Then we get some excellent historical photographs and the biographical sketches tell not just about the woman’s life and career but places her in her historical period, obstacles that faced all athletes plus the ones only women faced. The interviews with contemporary figures were wonderful. One major contrast with the stars of the past and our current ones is who gets to frame their stories. While this book is an excellent example of recovering the lives of the past athletes, today’s athletes have more opportunity to tell their own stories, to highlight the positives and negatives of being a female athlete in this world. So the interviews were a very welcome format. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in women’s sports, from the history to the current range of sports. This would be especially wonderful for young budding female athletes, as both empowerment and knowing the shoulders upon which they stand.’

– ***** Jack M, Reviewer Netgalley

‘GIRLS RUN THE WORLD!!!! I love this book!!! I loved reading about these amazing women & their accomplishments in sports and life.’

-***** Lashanda C, Reviewer Netgalley

‘This one has it all: sports, history, culture, and more. A fascinating look and overview of the women icons of sports, from the past to the present, that will have you inspired and feeling all of the girl power vibes. From portraits of female athletes on cave walls as early as the 4th Century, to Bethany Hamilton surfing, Serena and Venus dominating the courts, Alex Morgan on the soccer field, Simone Biles, and more, this one will allow you to know more about your fan favorites, and introduce you to some other top notch female athletes from around the world you may be less familiar with. Either way, this one will have you hitting the gym asap!’

-***** Katie M, Reviewer Netgalley

‘I wasn’t expecting real pictures but I am truly surprised with the quality content and how it features each woman in different fields of sports. Fun to read, inspirational and perfect for all age groups a definite recommendation.’

-***** Reading T Reviewer, Netgalley

‘I will preface my review by saying I requested this title after recently reading a fictional sports book (tennis) with a strong female lead who was the best in the world at what she did and even performed better than the men, which was incredibly empowering, even if fictional. So I expected this to have the same feel based on the topic – and it delivered! This book is a beautiful, sweeping tribute to past and present women’s accomplishments in sports. I enjoyed the diversity of the women, countries, sports, and disabilities featured, beginning all the way back to the women in sports pioneers of 1700- late 1990s. However, what I think is sorely lacking in this is my own favorite sports of weightlifting, an Olympic sport women dominate, and CrossFit, where all countries come together to determine who the “fittest woman on earth” is yearly. I’m not sure if this is by choice (I’d be willing to throw fists if anyone contests that either is a “sport”) or due to the geography this title is initially published in (the UK). They are both more closely followed in the United States, although many countries are represented in both sports. At first glance, I thought the cover could be more exciting and better designed for a book but I decided I sort of like how it resembles an old fashioned magazine cover. I think the publisher should have taken more advantage of that look. Thank you to Supernova Books, BookBuzz.net, and the author for a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review!’

-*** Taylor I Reviewer, Netgalley