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Senda Berenson

Drawn to sports by her recovery from childhood illness, Senda Berenson became known as the “Mother of Women’s Basketball.” Senda Berenson’s ill health meant she had to be tutored at home and later drop out of the Boston Conservatory of Music. In an attempt to regain her strength, she enrolled in the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, training to become a gymnastics coach. She began teaching at Smith College at twenty-three, and a year later discovered a new game called “Basket Ball” that she decided to adapt for women players, despite the fact that, at the time, women only played individual sports because team sports were thought too dangerous. She refereed the first official game of women’s basketball in 1893, with Smith freshmen battling against the sophomores. Within two years, there were hundreds of women’s basketball teams, and the success of the game opened the door for other women’s sports. Berenson developed the official rulebook for women’s college basketball, and many of the rules she created remained in force for the next seventy years.

Senda Berenson
Full image
Senda Berenson, the founder of women’s basketball.
Date of Birth
March 19, 1868
Place of Birth
Vilna, Vilnius
Date of Death
February 16, 1954

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Senda Berenson." (Viewed on December 14, 2018) <>.


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