WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Equal rights pioneer Billie Jean King held court to start the Miami Open, including thoughts from Chris Evert and Insider Blogger Nicole Gibbs.
WTA Staff

Eugenie Bouchard and Bethanie Mattek-Sands out in three sets: Lucie Hradecka's hard-hitting game came online just in time in the final set as she ousted No.45 Bouchard 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the 1st round of the Miami Open. Polish qualifier Magda Linette rallied to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-3.

Must-see second rounds set: With the first round of the Miami Open complete, here are the matches to watch in the second round: Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Angelique Kerber vs. Barbora Strycova, Andrea Petkovic vs. Caroline Garcia, Sloane Stephens vs. Heather Watson, Daria Kasatkina vs. Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina vs. Zhang Shuai, Alize Cornet vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Sara Errani vs. Naomi Osaka, Timea Bacsinszky vs. Margarita Gasparyan, Julia Goerges vs. Sam Stosur, Venus Williams vs. Elena Vesnina, Kristina Mladenovic vs. Nicole Gibbs.

Billie Jean King and Chris Evert hold court: The two legends called a press conference on Wednesday afternoon in response to the discussion of equal prize money kicked off by former BNP Paribas Open CEO Raymond Moore on Sunday. Moore has since resigned. King and Evert told reporters they had since been inundated with media requests and decided a press conference would be more efficient.

Here are some of the highlights:

- Chris Evert recalls the 70s: While King spoke about the future, Evert spoke of the importance of understanding the past in order to understand just how far women's tennis has come.

Many of you were too young to even know what happened in the early '70s. Some of you weren't born. But there were a lot of struggles and there were a lot of sacrifices being made in the early 70s, and I think I'm going to talk a little bit about those.

In the early '70s, the men had it really easy. Men athletes were very respected, admired, looked up to, and there was something almost unsettling about a strong, muscular athletic woman running around the court sweating. That was the early '70s and that was the stigma.

Then Billie Jean King came into the picture with the Original 9. First of all, Billie Jean scared me to death with her forward thinking. She was bold and she was aggressive and she was damn smart. That was very intimidating to me, a teenager at that point.

In my mind, she was right up there with Gloria Steinem. At that point, every time I turned on the TV I saw demonstrations and I saw bra burning and I saw rallies. I sensed at my young age that there was a revolution of some kind going on. I sensed also that it was very, very important for women.

But I still couldn't relate to her. I mean, I was a teenager. I was a kid in Ft. Lauderdale growing up in a culture where dads worked and moms stayed home and worked in the home and took care of the kids.

Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King

In the early '70s I was lucky enough to see how hard these women tried to sell the sport of tennis. The clinics and the cocktail parties and press conferences and the endless WTA meetings. Even bucking the establishment, who were at the time the USTA, when they threatened to be banned from US Open.

In 1974, when I was a teenager, I played Billie Jean in a tournament in San Francisco in the finals and lost to her quite easily. The next weekend, because we were No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, I played her in Sarasota, Florida and beat her quite easily. I openly wondered why she was so sluggish and just didn't seem to play her best out there.

I was informed that the day of the finals Billie Jean had flown out from Sarasota and spent the whole day in New York City doing meetings with potential sponsors, and then she flew back to Sarasota at 5:30. Didn't even warm up and just went on the court and played.

She put the tour before her career so many times. How many men or women do that? Ask yourself that. By the way, she and her husband at that time, Larry King, took me to Dairy Queen after. (Laughter.) Billie Jean loves her ice cream.

This was the era in the early '70s of no coaches, no entourages, no agents. We practiced together; we traveled together; we hung out together. We were all friends, comrades, and we had each other's backs. We were family. It was the best time in tennis. Ever.

So if there is a silver lining to all this that's gone on in the last week, it's the fact that there has been such outrage from the players and from the media and from the public defending the women's game.

I think from time to time we all need a reminder of the evolution of women's tennis and sacrifices every generation has had to make, from Billie Jean to myself and Martina, Steffi to Monica, to the Williams sisters. What we've done to get the credibility, the respect, and equality that we have now.

- Progress made, more progress needed:

To hear the men and women weighing in, tennis players just having this dialog, a discussion, is actually progress. To have Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka say that about their daughters, that's progress.

So this next generation of men are going to make a huge difference. We need them, but they need us. We need each other. I think if we can just keep that in our minds all the time, then we're going to win. The WTA and the ATP, ITF, USTA in this country, we all have an opportunity to help make the world a better place. I just hope that's what we're going to do.

- Equality over all: King emphasized her position is not about women vs. men but about equality and continuing to use tennis' platform to effect change.

We represent tennis. Because we have men and women's, we are one of the few that can lead globally on these issues. That is what my life is about and what I care about. Tennis was secondary to me. The reason I would go and do the sponsor meetings is tennis was secondary.

This, inclusion, when it's about all of us, is everything. We have a chance to continue to lead. To have equal prize money in the majors sends a message. It's not about the money, it's about the message. Any time you discount another human being by gender, race, disability, however, we're not helping ourselves.

You want everyone to make a lot. At least I do. We want to make the pie bigger, the marketplace bigger for all, for all of you so you have jobs. To argue over the prize money issue, what about when Chris and Martina were playing and their ratings were better than the men? We didn't go, Oh, we deserve more than the men. No. Let's just keep it equal and help each other.

So anyway, let's have some fun. It's not a "he" thing or a "she" thing; it's a "we" thing. I'm telling you, this is the only way the world is going to make it.

Nicole Gibbs

- Nicole Gibbs weighs in: The American has been a vocal defender (and explainer) of the concept of equal prize money on Twitter, and she was in the audience listening to King and Evert's remarks when King called on her to chime in:

NICOLE GIBBS: First of all, I just want to thank you guys for your words today. You guys have been such mentors to me throughout my career just with your tennis, but also using your platform, which I think is so, so important.

I was just talking to Jeff over here. I got into a little spat on Twitter last night. I wouldn't call it a spat but I was just hearing some negative opinions towards women on court with some statistics and some of my own thoughts about equality and finding a way everybody can support one another, like you said.

I had multiple girls in the locker room come up to me and say, Hey, I saw your tweets last night, your messages, but my coach told me not to get involved, or I didn't think it was smart for me to get involved.


NICOLE GIBBS: I'm not going to name names, but it's really disappointing. It's like, Okay, so you see me out there putting myself out there and trying to give myself an opportunity to use my platform, and you think, Oh, I have an opportunity to use mine too but I'm not going to do that because maybe the media won't like it or maybe even men who are following me who have these opinions won't like it.

I think there is far too much worrying about what other people are going to think when you're campaigning for equality as a woman. I think it's really important for us to do as you're saying, use our platform and really just fight the good fight.

BILLIE JEAN KING: What do you say to the ones that say they don't want to get involved or get committed to this?

NICOLE GIBBS: You know, I try not to be too heavy- handed because...

BILLIE JEAN KING: That doesn't work. You're right.

NICOLE GIBBS: Yeah, like you're saying, though, you can never really fully put yourself in someone else's shoes, so I'm not going to say, You need to do this...

What I'll say is, Hey, I would really appreciate some support on that. Or, Hey, I'm writing a blog in the next couple weeks. Would you be willing to give a quote for that that's authentic and unfiltered?

I get a lot of positive responses, so I think it's appealing to people in a way that scares them.

CHRIS EVERT: If I could give you some advice: Never be fearful of telling your truth. I think I'm saying that because in my generation there was always so much fear about telling the truth and about consequences and about image and about how you'll look and how you'll sound.

You know what? It's all wrong. It's all wrong. So I admire you for speaking out as a current player. Just keep doing it.

NICOLE GIBBS: Thank you. Hopefully I can get past 74 in the world so I can have a little higher platform.

BILLIE JEAN KING: Doesn't matter. You have a platform because we're global now. We weren't global when we started. This is fantastic.

Cake not crumbs: King recalled her early interactions with an all-male press corp, and how they struggled to grapple with a strong, outspoken woman advocating for equality.

You have to remember, when I would go to a press conference, and I don't know about you, Chris, but there wasn't one woman sportswriter.

There wouldn't have been one woman in the crowd my whole life. When I played Bobby Riggs, there wasn't one women sportswriter there. I grew up with guys. It was fun actually. They were funny. We got laughing a lot.

I used to ask them before we started the press conference, I would like each person here to tell me what it means to be a feminist. It was hilarious. All the guys start thinking about it. Whoa, whoa. Let's go to each [person]. If I say that word, I want to make sure we're on the same page.

You cannot believe the differences. It was hilarious. Nobody was really sure what they thought. So I just said equal rights and opportunities for boys and girls. Exactly what I've said since I was 12. Just means equality. Everybody gets their knickers in a twist. Oh, oh. What are the girls asking for? No, we just want the same. Not more.

Everyone thinks women should be thrilled when we get crumbs. I want women to have the cake, the icing, the cherry on top, too. And every man and every women and every -- now we have more than just men and women, so however they self- identify. I have to honor that. I just think every single human being deserves the cake and the icing and everything. Okay? Everyone. Everyone.

Insider Podcast: Lastly, check out WTA Insider's look ahead to the Miami Open draw in the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast:

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.