NEWPORT, RI, USA - The International Tennis Hall of Fame is paying tribute to the Original 9 and their impact on tennis history with a special exhibit.
Housed at both the museum in Newport, Rhode Island and online in digital form, "We've Come a Long Way" explores the climate of professional tennis in the late 1960s and early 1970s at the dawn of the Open Era, when new opportunities for players to make a living through the sport emerged - but also fostered a deep inequality between women and men.
The exhibit leads up to the events of Sept. 23, 1970 when Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Judy Tegart Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid changed the landscape of the sport forever by signing symbolic $1 contracts under the leadership of tennis promoter and World Tennis Magazine publisher Gladys Heldman for a women’s only tournament.
From making $1 to making history 💪🎾— Tennis Hall of Fame (@TennisHalloFame) September 23, 2020
Explore the ITHF's digital exhibit "We've Come A Long Way", which tells the story of the #Original9 from the need for change early in tennis' Open Era to the continued fight for women's equality in sports today.
➡️ https://t.co/a1UtisoeM6 pic.twitter.com/vHycytxEzd
Their actions led to the forming of the Virginia Slims Circuit, the predecessor to the modern-day WTA. In celebration of a half-century anniversary of this moment, the trailblazing group was also announced as one of seven nominees for induction in Newport for the class of 2021 earlier this week.
Infused with imagery and quotes from the Original 9 and others, the exhibit showcases the impact that these nine brave women had in fostering equality for women, in tennis and beyond.
Also showcased in the annals is the trophy that was awarded to the first Virginia Slims champion in 1971, which was won by Billie Jean King. Gifted to Newport by King, the trophy is now preserved as part of the permanent collection at the museum.
To learn more and to view the digital exhibit, visit tennisfame.com/original9.