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Women of destiny: World Cup champs

  Mark Abrahams

"It was on July 10, 1999 that the U.S. women's soccer team faced China for the championship of the third Women's World Cup, the first one played in the U.S. At the Rose Bowl, the most storied football stadium in the country, a body filled every seat. The announced crowd was 90,185, the largest ever to see a women's sporting event. Today, five months later, a million people will swear to you that they were there.

"It was the most significant day in the history of women's sports, bearing the fruit of the passage of Title IX in 1972 and surpassing by a long shot that burn-your-bra night in '73 when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, the late goofball showman, in a made-for-TV tennis spectacle at the Houston Astrodome. That night's drama, of course, required the services of a man. The three-act play performed at the Rose Bowl -- the game, the overtime, the shootout -- required nothing but women, 40 of them (44 if you want to include the match's four officials). In the final summer of the 20th century, the era of the woman in sports finally arrived."

Text by Michael Bamberger
Issue date: December 20, 1999

Your Turn: We asked for your choices for 1999 Sportsman of the Year. Check out a selection of user responses, and tell us what you think.

Multimedia: For exclusive behind-the-scenes video of the 1999 Sportswomen of the Year cover photo shoot, click on the links below. And use the table of contents at left to browse additional Sportswomen of the Year and CNN/SI features, including a complete archive of every winner.
Mia Hamm on sportsmanship Brandi Chastain looks ahead
More Multimedia

Sports Illustrated for Women: The newest addition to Sports Illustrated's group of magazines recently named its Sportswomen of the Year and Sportswoman of the Century. Check out the current issue.

SI Online: Current issue, archives.

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