‘It Was Really Scary’ – Billie Jean King Makes an Appearance at the Australian Open With ‘the Original Nine’ and Dives Into Their Sacrifices for Women’s Tennis

Published 01/25/2023, 9:30 AM EST

Tennis is among the sport with the least difference in pay between male and female players. While the players are still fighting out there for equal prize money in a few tournaments, the sport surely came a long way. Earlier, the pay for female tennis players used to be so minimal that the ladies had to think twice before choosing tennis as a career. However, a brave move from nine female tennis players changed it for all. Billie Jean King, along with eight of her colleagues, started the fight.

Today, we call them the Original 9. The original 9 appeared in the ongoing Australian Open today. King also spoke about their journey and battle for equality.

Billie Jean King recalls the historic move that formed the WTA

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Modern generation female tennis players owe a lot to Billie Jean King. The former world number one along with other eight players took the brave decision to challenge the governing authorities and fought for equality and the rights of female tennis players.

Recalling the journey, King said, “There’s three things that we thought about with the Original Nine. That was that any girl in this world. Number two, to be appreciated for our accomplishments, not only our looks. And number three, really important, to be able to make a living in tennis.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King watch the Ladies’ Singles Final match between Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Karolina Pliskova of The Czech Republic on Day Twelve of The Championships – Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The demands are pretty genuine, but it was not easy for the original nine to achieve them. Recalling the hardships they faced, King added, “we also got suspended, then we got reinstated, suspended. I mean, it was a nightmare. It was really scary. I was really scared. But I think kept thinking about the future.”

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It was then that the original nine understood they need to come together to strengthen their voices. With this, 63 players signed up for the Women’s Tennis Association before the 1973 Wimbledon championships and the rest is history.

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King recently celebrated 39 years of her last singles title

While we all remember Billie Jean King as the pioneer of equality, we often forget to mention her prowess as a tennis player. It was indeed brave for a great player like King in her prime days to risk her career and fight for a cause.

King had a long and illustrious career and ended her association with the tennis court in 1983. The American played her last tournament in 1983. King recently recalled her last singles title that she won at the Edgbaston Cup and the Maud Watson Cup.

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Watch this story – Billie Jean King sends a heartfelt message to Serena after the retirement announcement

However, the tennis great kept working closely with the sport even after her retirement. Even today, at an age of 79 she takes an active interest in tennis developments. The activist inside her is still active, as she never fails to raise her voice against anything she finds wrong. What is your favorite memory of King? Let us know in the comments.

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Gaurav Verma

1050 articles

Gaurav Verma is a Tennis Author at EssentiallySports. He has post graduate diploma in management from IILM Graduate School of Management and a BBA degree from Bangalore University. He has 1-year of experience in the banking sector.

Edited By: Arijit Saha

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