On the final weekend of the 2012 Family Circle Cup, April 6-8, the Original 9 will be in attendance as the tournament is played in its 40th year. The group called the Original 9, led by Billie Jean King, signed $1 contracts with Gladys Heldman, and the Virginia Slims tennis circuit was formed. The women risked their careers in order to obtain access to reasonable prize money and recognition, and they were ostracized by many men on the tour.
The Virginia Slims tour led to the creation of the WTA. Heldman, who founded World Tennis magazine, died in 2003.
The Original 9 include King, Rosemary Casals, Peaches Bartkowicz, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, and Kristy Pigeon.
"In celebrating our 40th anniversary, the Family Circle Cup is thrilled to host the reunion of the Original 9," said Bob Moran, Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup. "This event has been around for almost as long as women’s professional tennis. It’s more than just a tennis tournament. It’s a celebration of women’s tennis, and we are proud to honor these nine incredible champions at the Family Circle Cup."
The tournament, which is played on green clay, will be held March 31 through April 8 at the Family Circle Tennis Center on Daniel Island, just outside Charleston. World number 1 Caroline Wozniacki is the defending champion in singles, and Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina are the defending doubles champions.