Women were banned from participating in the ancient Olympics in Greece. When Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived the Games in the late 19th century, he had no plans to accommodate women on the field of play either. At the first Olympiad of the modern era, held in Athens in 1896, every competitor was male.
"As for the admission of women to the Games, I remain strongly against it," said de Coubertin. "It was against my will that they were admitted to a growing number of competitions. "Their role should be above all to crown the victors."
For all that, there was no shortage of women who wanted to participate. In 1884, Wimbledon held its first tennis championship for ladies. The match was contested in front of "a numerous and fashionable company assembled at the grounds", according to the Daily Telegraph.
Progress remained slow and, frustrated by the lack of opportunity, women started to take matters into their own hands. A women's sport movement set up their own Games in the spring of 1921. This was a five day competition held in Monaco and was organised by Frenchwoman Alice Milliat.
She was described as "the soul of the women's sports movement, a living example of modern woman accustomed to all sports disciplines and fulfilling the role which falls to women in this vibrant 20th century".
The Games were an immediate success and were repeated in 1922 when organisers claimed "they would eclipse the success which attended them last year for entries are more numerous."