With the exception of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., and the Professional Women Bowlers Hall of Fame in the Sam’s Town Hotel in Las Vegas (home of the Sam’s Town Invitational, one of the major events of the women’s bowling tour), there are no halls of fame dedicated exclusively to chronicling the success of individual female athletes and women’s sports teams. Until now — or early next year, to be more precise.

Kristin Bender reports for Women’s eNews on the development underway of the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center at the National Sports Museum in Manhattan — "3,000 square feet of exhibit space, a
comprehensive women’s sports library of more than 2,000 volumes, a women’s sports film and video collection, and athlete and event memorabilia representing more than 40 sports."

There are also numerous smaller tributes and exhibits popping up in larger museums around the country, writes Bender. On Sept. 1, the Independent Women’s Football League Hall of Fame will induct its first honorees at its new home: the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kan.

"Halls of fame for sports are really an American cultural phenomenon and as American culture embraces women athletes more fully there will be more halls of fame devoted to women’s sports," said Lisa Antonangeli, a spokesperson for the Women’s Sports Foundation, tells Women’s eNews. The WSF is partnering with the National Sports Museum in New York on the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center.

Bender provides a look at what visitors can expect to see:

The museum will highlight female athletes in multiple arenas, from Olympic winning teams and elite collegiate coaches to inspiring community grassroots programs and Little League coaches who spent 50years in the game.

With an opening date of April 2008, visitors will be offered a view of King’s 20th Wimbledon trophy and her wooden racquet.

Also on view: the Olympic gold medal of track star Wilma Rudolph, the first U.S. woman to win Olympic gold three times, inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1973 and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.

The helmet of female car racer Janet Guthrie will also be in the collection. Guthrie, the first woman to earn a starting spot in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, was inducted last year into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to receive a license from the National Hot Rod Association and often called the "first lady of drag racing," was inducted in 2004.

"Our biggest challenge is deciding which stories to tell," said Antonangeli. "There are so many great ones."

Plus: Speaking of great stories, swimmer Dara Torres, 40, "broke her own, seven-year-old national record in the 50 freestyle and dusted a field consisting of swimmers less than half her age," writes Eli Saslow at the Washington Post, describing Torres’ amazing feat at the USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis on Saturday night.

Torres has now emerged as a serious contender to qualify for both individual and relay events for the
Summer 2008 Olympics. If she makes it, she’ll become the oldest Olympic swimmer ever.

The story notes that because her "age-defying swims strike some peers as surreal," Torres said she has requested extra steroid testing.

"It’s not that big of a deal to get tested," said Torres. "It’s worth it. Some people are always going to say it’s too good to be true. But my point is that you’re more than your age."

Curious about her workout routine? This Washington Post story looks at Torres’s daily physical
activity — along with her full-time staff and organic diet — that has led to one of the most stunning comebacks of all time.

Christine

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