As World No.2 Ons Jabeur and No.23 Elena Rybakina prepared for the biggest match of their careers in anticipation of the Wimbledon final, another group of leading women gathered in a small boardroom to consider how women have been disproportionately affected by the crises the world is currently facing -- and how to engage global audiences through the power of tennis.
A new collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WTA Charities, WTA leaders and the foundation’s co-chair, Melinda French Gates, convened in London to discuss how the two organizations will harness their platforms and resources to further serve the future of women and girls around the world.
Those gathered for the roundtable conversation included Billie Jean King, Mary Pierce, Pam Shriver, Vania King, Iva Majoli, Cara Black, Daniela Hantuchova, Johanna Konta, Marion Bartoli, Ilana Kloss, Louise Pleming, along with WTA President Micky Lawler and Wimbledon CEO Sally Bolton.
Along with Melinda French Gates, they explored ways in which the new collaboration can bring greater attention, commitment and resources to the most serious health issues facing women and girls worldwide. Today, more than one billion women and children don’t have access to the nutrition they need to survive and thrive. And the current food crisis -- as with most crises -- is expected to hit women and girls especially hard.
The meeting on Friday marks the beginning of a new alliance for the WTA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to elevate women’s leadership and voices in support of women’s health, and specifically women’s nutrition, as a major global health priority for the public, donors and partner governments.
From discussing the challenges faced overwhelmingly by women in low-and-middle-income countries and the impact of the global food crisis, French Gates and those around the table outlined a series of immediate objectives for the joint initiative, including recruiting philanthropic investment through WTA channels, raising critical funds with a dedicated tennis-aid program and developing leadership programs that will serve women’s nutrition needs on a global scale.