Friday, April 6, 2012

The Original 9--women with spine

Back in the 70s, when women actually took a stand against sexism and misogyny, nine women risked their careers (such as they were allowed to have) in order to give female professional tennis players an opportunity to really be professionals in their sport. Gladys Heldman paid each of nine women $1 apiece, and a tour contract was created. The nine women were: Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville, and Billie Jean King.

The Original 9 will be honored this weekend at the Family Circle Cup. It's the first time they've all been together in 25 years, and it's fitting that they should all meet again in Charleston, where women's tennis has been important since the official founding (the tour was actually put together in 1970) of the WTA in 1973. Casals won the first Family Circle Cup, which offered significant prize money, and was the first women's tournament to be shown on national television.

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