About The WTA
The WTA is the global leader in women's professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing 92 nations competing for $137 million in prize money. The 2016 WTA competitive season includes 57 events and four Grand Slams and the Olympic Games across 33 countries. In 2015, The WTA was watched by 395 million fans on television and digital channels around the world. The 2016 WTA competitive season concludes with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, from October 23-30, 2016 and the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China from November 1-6, 2016. Further information on the WTA can be found at www.wtatennis.com; facebook.com/WTA and twitter.com/WTA.
THE WTA STORY
Billie Jean King and her group of eight other renegades were revolutionary by 1970s standards. A full two years ahead of the passage of Title IX in the United States, they envisioned a better future for women's tennis.
In September 1970, the birth of women's professional tennis was launched when nine players signed $1 contracts with World Tennis publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in a new women's tour, the Virginia Slims Series. The Original 9, as they were called, included Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Julie Heldman.
Heldman, along with her friend Joe Cullman from Philip Morris and several others, provided women's professional tennis the opportunity the Original 9 and so many others sought. The inaugural $7,500 Virginia Slims of Houston was established on September 23, 1970 and it was the event that became the groundbreaker for all others.
1971 - The Virginia Slims Series debuts with 19 tournaments, with a total purse of $309,100 on offer in the United States. Billie Jean King becomes the first female athlete to cross the six-figure mark in season earnings.
1973 - Billie Jean King founds the Women's Tennis Association, uniting all of women's professional tennis in one tour. The WTA was born out of a meeting of more than 60 players held in a room at the Gloucester Hotel in London the week before Wimbledon. The US Open, for the first time, offered equal prize money to men and women. Weeks later, King stuns Bobby Riggs in The Battle of the Sexes at the Houston Astrodome.
1974 - The WTA signs the first television broadcast contract in the history of the organization, with US network CBS.
1975 - The computerized ranking era begins with Chris Evert installed as the WTA's first official world No.1 on November 3, 1975.
1976 - Colgate assumes sponsorship of tour events from April to November for four years, while Evert becomes the first female athlete to pass $1 million in career earnings.
1977 - New York's Madison Square Garden hosts the Virginia Slims Championships for the first time.
1979 - Avon, replacing Virginia Slims as winter circuit sponsor, offers a record $100,000 to the winner of the Avon Circuit Championship.
1980 - By now more than 250 women are playing professionally all over the world in a tour consisting of 47 global events, offering a total $7.2 million in prize money.
1982 - Martina Navratilova becomes the first woman to earn over $1 million in a season.
1983 - Virginia Slims returns, replacing Avon and Toyota, who replaced Colgate in 1981, to sponsor the first unified Circuit of more than $10 million. King brings an end to her illustrious singles career, but occasionally plays doubles until 1990.
1984 - Navratilova receives a $1 million bonus from the ITF for winning Roland Garros and thus holding all four Grand Slam singles crowns at the same time; she also crosses the $2 million mark in season earnings, more than men's No.1 John McEnroe. The Australian Open joined the US Open in offering the women's event equal prize money (temporarily did not between 1996-2000).
1986 - Navratilova passes $10 million in career earnings.
1990 - The tour's prize purse increases to $23 million with new sponsor Kraft General Foods, and concludes the season at Madison Square Garden, in New York, with the first-ever $1 million tournament in women's sports. Navratilova wins a record ninth Wimbledon singles title.
1992 - For the second year in a row, the dominating Monica Seles earns more than the top men's prize money leader, Stefan Edberg.
1995 - The WTA Players Association merges with the Women's Tennis Council to form the WTA Tour, and following Monica Seles' inspiring return to the sport in the summer, the season concludes with a new title sponsor - software company Corel.
1997 - On March 30, Martina Hingis becomes the fastest player ever to win $1 million in a season and a day later became the youngest-ever world No.1, ending Graf's record reign (for men and women) of 377 total weeks.
1999 - After 17 years, Graf retires from the tour with 22 Grand Slam singles titles and a record $21,895,277 in career earnings.
2000 - Sanex bodycare products comes on board as the Tour's title sponsor for three years. After 22 consecutive years, Madison Square Garden hosts its last season-ending WTA Championships.
2001 - The Australian Open restores equal prize money, while overall Tour prize money increases to $50 million in 63 events, including the first-ever Middle Eastern Tour events in Doha, Qatar and Dubai, UAE. Munich hosts the season-ending Championships.
2002 - The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, fulfill their father's prophecy by becoming the No.1 players in the world - first Venus in February, then Serena in July. Serena wins three majors, defeating her older sister in each final. Los Angeles hosts the season-ending Championships for the first time since 1976.
2004 - Dubai Duty Free becomes Presenting Sponsor of the Middle East/Asia-Pacific region, while Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova lift Russia's first Grand Slam singles titles.
2005 - Sony Ericsson becomes the Tour's worldwide title sponsor in a landmark $88 million, six-year deal, the largest and most comprehensive sponsorship in the history of tennis and of women's professional sport. As winner of the US Open Series, Kim Clijsters earns double prize money for winning the US Open; her $2.2 million prize cheque was the single biggest payday in women's sports and in any official tennis event, men's or women's.
2006 - Game-changing innovations designed to make the sport more fan-friendly and interactive include electronic line-calling and on-court coaching. Navratilova ends her 32-year career in which she amassed more titles than any other female or male player.
2007 - The historic achievement of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon means that following a 30-year campaign, all four majors offer parity for the first time. After two successful years in Madrid, the tour announces the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships will move to Doha, Qatar for 2008-2010.
2008 - Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the WTA opens its first Asia-Pacific headquarters in Beijing, China, complementing existing offices in St Petersburg, Florida and London, England. Justine Henin becomes the first player to retire while ranked No.1 in the world, while a record five different women hold the No.1 ranking during the season (Henin, Sharapova, Ivanovic, Jankovic, S.Williams). Doha, Qatar makes a successful debut as host of the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships.
2009 - The sweeping Roadmap circuit reforms come into effect, heralding a shorter season, more fan-friendly structure and a 40 per cent increase in prize money. Clijsters storms out of retirement to win the US Open in only her third tournament back, while Serena Williams becomes the first woman to earn more than $6 million in a single season.
2010 - 40 years on from the revolutionary Virginia Slims event at Houston in September 1970, prize money has increased to $85 million.
2011 - China's Li Na becomes the first player from Asia to win a Grand Slam singles title, at Roland Garros. For the first time in WTA history, 10 different nations are represented in the world's Top 10 rankings. The TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships make a successful debut in Istanbul, Turkey.
2012 - Sharapova captures her first Roland Garros title to become the sixth woman in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam. Serena Williams defeats Sharapova to seal her career Golden Slam with gold at the London Olympics. For the first time since the 1980s, all nine members of the trailblazing Original 9 are reunited during the Family Circle Cup in Charleston.
2013 - The WTA celebrates four decades of growth and achievement since the organization's founding with a season-long campaign named 40 LOVE, showcasing the pioneers and the current stars of the game. With players competing for a record-setting $118 million in prize money, 25 players finish the year with at least $1 million in prize money.
2014 - Singapore becomes the first city in Asia Pacific (ninth city overall) to host the season finale - the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. For the first time, the competition's format includes representatives from the past (Legends Classic), the present and the future (Rising Stars Invitational and Future Stars). Serena Williams lifts the Billie Jean King Trophy for the third consecutive year, while Cara Black and Sania Mirza hoist the new Martina Navratilova Doubles Trophy.
2015 - Serena Williams pockets her 21st major title (and second 'Serena Slam') at Wimbledon, but Roberta Vinci thwarts a calendar year Grand Slam at the US Open before falling to Flavia Pennetta in the first all-Italian Slam final. Meantime, Venus Williams returns to the Top 10 for the first time in almost five years by winning the new WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, China and Hingis burnishes her doubles comeback with titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and WTA Finals partnering Mirza - the first Indian woman to hold a WTA No.1 ranking.