When Title IX was enacted on June 23, 1972, the federal law changed athletic life for American women, as TIME explained in a 1978 cover story about women and sports:

Of course, there were plenty of great female athletes before Title IX—and its passage didn’t mean that women stopped breaking new ground. Those who wanted to play found a way, despite limited options and sometimes-violent opposition. Here are just a few of those pioneering women.

Read the full 1978 story here, in the TIME Vault: Comes the Revolution

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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