Senda Berenson Abbott

Senda Berenson Abbott

Senda Berenson Abbott

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Senda Berenson Abbott (March 19, 1868, Butrimantsy, Vilno gubernia, 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, the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, and into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.

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

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.


Born in Vilno gubernia (now in Lithuania) as Senda Valvrojenski, she immigrated to the United States with her family when she was seven years old, settling in the Boston area, and becoming Senda Berenson.

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 in 1890 she decided to enter the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics. She spent much of her time enduring an exercise to strengthen her back, lying across three stools for hours...
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