50 years since the ‘original 9’ boycott
Michael is joined by Craig Gabriel, Nine Radio’s tennis expert, regarding the ‘Original 9’, the group of female tennis players who boycotted and broke away from the male-dominant structures of international tennis on 23 September 1970.
The situation came to a head in 1970, when most tournaments offered four times as much prize money to men than they did to women.
At the 1970 Italian Open, men’s singles champion Ilie Năstase was paid US$3,500 while women’s singles champion Billie Jean King received just US$600. On top of this, the United States Lawn Tennis Association failed to organise any tournaments for women in 1970.
King & eight other female tennis players – Americans Rosemary Casals, Nancy Richey, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman and Australians Kerry Melville Reid & Judy Tegart Dalton – decided to enlist World Tennis magazine publisher Gladys Heldman to help negotiate for greater equality in prize money and provide valuable public relations assistance.
All the players were putting their tennis careers at risk because the influential USLTA did not back them.
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