Top Honours For Original 9 Who Fought for Equal Rights in Tennis

by | Mar 8, 2021

Tennis icon and crusader for social justice and women’s equality in sport, Billie Jean King, is one of nine courageous women who have been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame for inflicting a positive change in the world of women’s tennis.

In 1970, the Original 9, consisting of King, Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid, took a stand for equal rights in the sport.

The phenomenal women were willing to risk their respective careers to make a positive change for future female tennis players.

“This is one of the biggest honours we’ve ever had,” said King in an interview with atptour.com

“The nine of us were willing to give up our careers for the rest of our lives and never play again for this opportunity to start something.” – Tennis Icon, Billie Jean King

“We’re all so excited because of what we went through together. The nine of us were willing to give up our careers for the rest of our lives and never play again for this opportunity to start something.

“Now, to be honoured together for having an impact on tennis history and being part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame together is just terrific.”

At the time, men in professional tennis earned as much as 12 times more in prize money than women in some tournaments as pay discrepancy in the sport surged in the late 1960s.

The Original 9 went on to boycott the Pacific Southwest Championships in Los Angeles, which paid the winner of the men’s tournament $12,500 and the winner of the women’s $1,500.

Instead of playing, they united to hold their own event in Houston, the Virginia Slims Invitational.

Since then, each generation has built upon what the Original 9 started, with the likes of Serena Williams and new generation leader, Naomi Osaka, taking full advantage of every opportunity granted.

 

Photo 1 Caption: The Original 9 consisting of Billie Jean King, Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid, took a stand for equal rights in the sport in 1970. Photo: WTA (Twitter)

 

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