Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre, Ryde, New South Wales; Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 16, 2000
Date Finished: September 23, 2000
Format: Round-robin pools advanced teams to classification matches.
This was the first ever Olympic water polo tournament for women. The last two World Champions had been Italy (1998) and Hungary (1994), although both Italy and the Netherlands had been on the podium both years, Italy also winning the European title in 1995, 1997, and 1999. But Italy was not one of the six teams in Sydney, having placed fourth at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The qualified teams were the host Australians, the top European and American teams from the 1999 World Cup (Netherlands and Canada), the top two from the qualifying tournament (USA and Russia), and the best Asian team from the qualifying tournament (Kazakhstan, which finished sixth).
The round-robin served to eliminate Canada and Kazakhstan, with Australia winning four of five matches and taking first seed into the semi-finals. After the round-robin every match was close and was decided by only one goal. Australia and the United States eliminated Russia and the Netherlands, 7-6 and 6-5, respectively. The final match saw the USA leading 2-1 at the half. With only 13 seconds left in the match, American Brenda Villa scored to tie the match 3-3, but with only 1.3 seconds remaining Australia’s Yvette Higgins scored after a foul and a free throw-in, giving Australia the gold medal, 4-3.