Charleston Announces Night Of Empowerment

The Original 9 are just part of the historic reunion that will take place at the Family Circle Cup.

Published March 01, 2012 12:00

Charleston Announces Night Of Empowerment
Original 9

CHARLESTON, SC, USA - The Family Circle Cup announced on Tuesday "40Love: A Night of Empowerment Celebrating 40 Years of the Family Circle Cup", a special evening presented by Dove, featuring a reunion of the Original 9, including Billie Jean King and first ever Family Circle Cup champion Rosie Casals. Honorary coaches King and Virginia Wade will lead a star-studded World TeamTennis-style exhibition with former Family Circle Cup champions Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Martina Hingis and Rennae Stubbs, along with tennis legend Jimmy Connors and Aaron Krickstein.

"This commemoration is designed to celebrate our 40th year in professional tennis, and honor the incredible women who made it all possible with their courage and steadfast determination for equality," declared Bob Moran, the Tournament Director of the Family Circle Cup. "The Original 9 served as a catalyst for change in not only women's tennis, but helped shift our country's attitude toward equality as a whole. I truly believe that this is an evening that should be experienced by every generation from daughter to grandmother."

"We are thrilled to partner with Dove on this extraordinary celebration and recognition of these incredible women," says Nancy Weber, EVP/Chief Marketing Officer, Meredith Corporation. "Over the past four decades, the Family Circle Cup has played a critical role in supporting their mission, and we are excited to have the opportunity to mark this historic occasion."

Governor Nikki Haley, WTA CEO Stacey Allaster and representatives from Dove will be present to recognize the Family Circle Cup and the Original 9.

40Love: A Night of Empowerment Celebrating 40 Years of the Family Circle Cup presented by Dove begins promptly at 7pm on Saturday, April 7, 2012. Tickets for this event are on sale now, with seating options available throughout Family Circle Stadium. Pricing begins at $20 in the Grandstand, $35 for Terrace Level, and $65 for Box Seats. Go to www.familycirclecup.com to buy tickets.

In 1970, the birth of women's professional tennis was launched when nine female tennis players signed $1 contracts with World Tennis publications publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in what would become the Virginia Slims Series. The Original 9, as they were called, included King, Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Julie Heldman. They have previously reunited in 1980 (US Open), 1986 (Virginia Slims Championships), and 1989 (Slims of Houston).

Additional 40Love honorees will include Fern Lee "Peachy" Kellmeyer, the first employee and director of the WTA in 1973, a direct contributor to the creation of the Title IX amendment, and International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA's alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build. During Kellmeyer's tenure, prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $90,000,000 in 2012, and the number of WTA tournaments has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 tournaments in 33 different countries around the world.

"The WTA has been extremely fortunate to have the Family Circle Cup as its partner for 40 years and I congratulate them on running one of our most prestigious events," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman & CEO of the WTA. "We are excited to celebrate Family Circle Cup's landmark anniversary along with the reunion of our Original 9 trailblazers. These amazing champions helped shape women's professional tennis into the No.1 professional sport for women and it is wonderful to bring them all back together to celebrate the historic achievements of the past 40 years at the Family Circle Cup."

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