When Naomi Osaka lifted the 2020 US Open trophy, her third career Grand Slam crown, she also picked up a $3 million dollar prize money check. Already the highest paid female athlete according to Forbes, Osaka took home the same amount of money as the men’s champion - just as a revolutionary group of women had dreamed of 50 years ago.
The WTA’s trailblazing Original 9 were honored at last week’s Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute to Women in Sports for their bold action and far-reaching impact, with a tribute video narrated by actress and women’s soccer club owner Natalie Portman.
“Earlier this year, tennis star Naomi Osaka became the highest paid female athlete in the world,” the Israeli-American actress said. “Her on-court success, humble demeanor and multicultural heritage have made her wildly popular and marketable.
“Osaka’s earnings today can be traced back 50 years, to a group of women who had the courage to demand more for themselves, for their contemporaries and for those that would follow. And they did it for only a dollar: the Original 9.”
Portman, a founder of Los Angeles NWSL soccer club Angel City, hailed the Original 9’s courageous choice to risk everything to risk everything for the benefit of future generations, paving the way for massive growth in girls’ participation in sports and for an increasing number of women to take leadership roles at all levels.
“Like all revolutionaries, the Original 9 were met with resistance, and it took courage to move forward,” she continued. “You can draw a line from their defiance, to the passage of Title IX in 1972, to the subsequent explosion of women’s sports participation - not just as athletes but as coaches, administrators and team owners.”
The Original 9 are also nominated for induction into the next year’s International Tennis Hall of Fame class in the contributing category. Fan voting is open now - click here to cast your vote and learn more about the Original 9 and other nominees.