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Senda Berenson Abbott (March 19, 1868, Vilnius, Lithuania, Russian Empire – February 16, 1954) was a pioneer of women's basketball, authoring the first Basketball Guide for Women (1901-07). She was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor on July 1, 1985 and into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.[1][2]

She modified existing men's basketball rules for women in 1899.[3]

Abbott was the sister of the art historian Bernard Berenson and a great-great-aunt of the photographer Berry Berenson and the actress and model Marisa Berenson.

Senda Berenson was the first person to introduce and adapt rules for women's basketball to Smith College. She is considered one of the pioneers of women's basketball.



Born in Lithuania, she immigrated to the United States with her family when she was seven years old, settling in the Boston area.

Berenson did not have much interest in athletics as a child, and preferred music, literature, and art. Back problems forced Berenson to give up the piano and she decided to enter the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics after much persuasion. She spent much of her time enduring an exercise to strengthen her back, lying across three stools for hours at a time.[4] At first, she hated exercise of any kind, but after her back improved, she grew to enjoy exercise, to the point that when a physical education job opened up at Smith, she was recommended for the position.[5]

In 1911, she married professor of English at Smith, Herbert Vaughan Abbott. Soon afterwards, Berenson resigned from her position at the College.

Known as Mother of Women's Basketball, Berenson was the first woman enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. She remained editor of the Basketball Guide for Women and as chair of the U.S. Women's Basketball Committee for six years.

She modified men's basketball rules for women in 1892. She later also adapted volleyball for women.

External links


  1. ^ "Hall of Famers". Basketball Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-08-01.  
  2. ^ "WBHOF Inductees". WBHOF. Retrieved 2009-08-01.  
  3. ^ "WBHOF Inductees". WBHOF. Retrieved 2009-08-01.  
  4. ^ Grundy p 16
  5. ^ Grundy p 17


  • Grundy, Pamela (2005). Shattering the glass. New Press. ISBN 978-1565848221.  


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