Nine For Nine

Nine of the Tour's current stars pay tribute to the nine women who paved the way for them four decades ago.

Published September 23, 2010 12:00

Nine For Nine
Reunited in 1986 (L-R): Judy Dalton, Kerry Melville Reid, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King (seated), Kristy Pigeon, Peaches Bartkowicz, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss

To mark the 40th anniversary of the signing of the famous $1 contracts in Houston, nine of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's current stars share their thoughts on Billie Jean King and her Original Nine cohorts.

"I thought it was important for me and all my fans to take the time to recognize Billie Jean and the Original Nine for everything they have done for women's tennis. I am personally grateful for their vision and their 'fight' for all the generations that followed them. I am very aware and humbled of what these nine women have done for my career."
- Maria Sharapova

"What Billie Jean and her fellow players did was obviously history-changing and I don't think there is a single female tennis player today who doesn't feel a lot of gratitude to them and their courage. We are fortunate to be in the position we are in today, with the same prize money as the guys at combined events, and we owe a lot of that to what these women did forty years ago."
- Ana Ivanovic

"I can't believe it's been 40 years! What an honor it's been to play professional tennis and to showcase the best of the best in womens' sports. We owe so much to the Original Nine for having the guts and the vision to make it possible for us today and the unborn champions. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
- Liezel Huber

"It took an immense amount of guts and determination for these women to do what they did. To risk their entire tennis careers and take on the then heavyweights of the game really paved the way for women's tennis. Without their drive there is no way that we, the current players on the Tour, would have the opportunities we have today. I think we owe so much to Billie Jean and the original nine for all they have done, not just women's tennis but women's sports, and women in general."
- Samantha Stosur

"What the Original Nine have done changed the history of women's tennis. I believe all WTA players should thank them for the oportunities we have today. Because the effort of Billie Jean and her fellow players, Chinese players and players from all other countries could enjoy the equal rights which are so important for women sports."
- Zheng Jie

"Forty years ago, nine women risked there careers and livelihoods to pursue a dream that in turn enabled many women to live the dream of becoming professional tennis players. Personally it has allowed me to do something i truly love as a career for over 20 years and I will forever be indebted to those amazing women for there strength, fortitude and vision. Thankyou, ladies."
- Rennae Stubbs

"I think it's so important we remember what Billie Jean and the Original Nine did. It's because they fought for better opportunities that the WTA Tour is now made up of players from all over the world. Even if they aren't household names, they all made an impact and we players have a lot to be thankful for."
- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

"Every one of us playing on the WTA Tour today owes a lot to those nine women who were willing to back themselves and take a big risk to try and create something great. I can't think of a better example for any tennis player than that and I feel very honoured to think that I'm following in their footsteps now. Every time we step on the court we should remember where we it all started and be grateful for the amazing tour we have now."
- Elena Baltacha

"Having just won my first Tour title, it's a special week for me to think about the impact of the Original Nine. Since they paved the way for women to make a living from tennis, they have affected so many lives in such a huge way. They were pioneers for women's tennis and I feel honored to have been able to follow in their footsteps and pursue my own dream of becoming a professional tennis player."
- Jarmila Groth

To watch a video tribute by Andrea Petkovic, click here

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