Chris Evert Congratulates Billie Jean King and Other Members of the ‘Original 9’

Published 07/18/2021, 8:37 AM EDT


July 17, 2021, was a historic day for women’s tennis. On Saturday night, a group of nine trailblazing women, popularly called Original 9, were officially inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. On the landmark occasion, 18-time Grand Slam champion, Chris Evert, congratulated the ‘Original 9’ for risking their careers to fight for equal rights as their male counterparts.

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Over fifty years ago, the Original 9 began their campaign for equality and led the pursuit for pay parity in women’s tennis. The Original 9 includes Billie Jean King, Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Kerry Melville Reid, Judy Tegart Dalton, and Nancy Richey.

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Chris Evert pays a heartfelt tribute to Original 9

After the induction ceremony, the legendary, Billie Jean King, uploaded a picture on Twitter with the six other members of the Original 9, Judy Tegart Dalton and Nancy Richey could not attend the event, with arms around each other’s shoulders and the glittering medal around their neck.

Evert, replied on the iconic snapshot, to pay a heartfelt tribute to the Original 9, because of whom women’s tennis eventually become the leader in women’s sports.

The American thanked the Original 9 for fighting to bring change and mentioned that every generation of players should pay their respect to these nine women, whose unwavering resolve brought more prize money to women’s tennis.

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“Thank you for your courage to create change #Original9 #gladysheldman #joecullman Every generation should thank you Individually and collectively! Well deserved honor,” tweeted Evert. 

The Original 9 boycotted the establishment and started the Virginia Slims Circuit back in the 1970s, to demand higher prize money. A corporate push from Philip Morris’ Virginia Slims cigarette brand and a media boost from World Tennis magazine helped the players seeking a change.

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Without their collective effort, women tennis players wouldn’t have had the fame and fortune they do today. The Original 9 challenged the status quo and wanted every girl to be recognized for her accomplishments. Kudos to the Original 9!

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Kshitij Tayal

464 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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