At age 26, tennis player Charlotte Cooper went deaf. That meant he did not hear the bashing of the ball in his games, nor the murmurs or applause of the public, nor heard the line judge. Cooper was spared from continuing to listen to the theories about women from the father of modern Olympism, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, which went back to antiquity, three thousand years before, to justify the absence of women in the First modern Games, Athens 1896: The mission of women in sports was to place the garlands on the heads of the champions.
Paris 1900 was a before and after. Politically, Coubertin failed in all orders; his country was devoted to the Universal Exposition, there were no opening or closing events, the Games were extended the same time as the Expo (five months) and could not even be called Games: International Competitions of Physical Exercises and Sports, having to accept swimming obstacles, with barrels floating in the water. Presumably, the presence of women was not to the liking of the baron, but they were able to participate in three high class sports: cricket, tennis and golf. And mix in competition with men in three others: sailing, croquet and equestrian.
We speak of a time when standards of Victorian beauty were influenced by tuberculosis, a disease that in the case of women robbed her life leaving her extremely thin, with very white skin and rosy lips and face as a result of fevers. "The ideal Victorian woman was kind, passive and fragile: a figure, at least in part, inspired by bodies plagued by tuberculosis. These pale bodies were linked with female beauty. Exercise and sports worked in opposition to this ideal by making the muscles grow and the skin to brown, "they recall. Jaqueline Mansky and Maya Wei-Haas in an article in the Smithsonian Magazine.
When he arrived in Paris, Chattie Cooper had already won Wimbledon four times. She was one of the few women who pulled the ball over her head, and her aggressive game was imposed in the final of Paris to the French Héléne Prevóst by 6-1 and 7-5. In A Historical Dictionary of British Women, by Cathy Hartley, a description of her game made by the newspaper is collected The Sportfolio: "He has something to learn about his stability, because he can go wild by hitting the ball." The certain thing is that Cooper had helped to initiate a political revolution of the first order: she was the first Olympic champion of the history in Games that were not strictly Games, in which medals could not be given and of which many winners went without to know that they had been Olympic champions; in the case of the tennis player, the invisibility of invisibility. And without listening to anything around.
The battle for equality reached one of its peaks when at the Games of Amsterdam, in 1926, the pressure of a federation made ad hoc by the athlete Alice Milliat, feminist figure essential for the integration of women in sport, imposed an athletics test for women. They were allowed to run in those Games at a distance considered extraordinary for them: 800 meters flat. Curiously, that proved one of Coubertin's theories: the public was prepared to see the suffering of men, but not that of women. The images of them arriving exhausted, wrapped in sweat or dizzy, scandalized so much that until 1960, in Rome, they were not allowed to run more than 200 meters. One newspaper titled about the participants: "Eleven unhappy women". The fact is that eight before that 1926 in which the women ran the 800 meters, one, Marie-Louise Ledru, had already completed the 42 kilometers of the marathon.