This first article about the history of women in sports seems to claim that women are 2 inches taller (in 1953) than they were in 1850 because they’re free to exercise and play sports!
A picture of girls playing leapfrog for exercise in 1914 showed progress from the stiffer 1800s, when it would have been unthinkable.
Tennis was “the first sport” to “free” the female form from restrictive dresses, and Mary Sutton was the first champion female tennis player to wear a shorter and less restrictive dress (to much scandal). Helen Wills and “Little Mo” Connolly followed suit with short, simple, tennis outfits in the 1920s. Suzanne Lenglen wore culottes, and Helen Jacobs wore shorts.
This article touches on Eleanora Sears, who became a squash champion in her 50s, and, “Touching 70, she was still walking – and still beating the men.”. In 1932 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias won more points than any team in the national women’s field and track championships, followed by Olympic wins, and a tour as pitcher for the bearded House of David baseball team. In 1951 she was named woman athlete of the half century, and after beating cancer in 1952, is back at winning tournament golf.