Women’s Tennis Association
Billie Jean King fulfilled her lifelong dream to give women’s tennis the prominence it deserved by forming the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in 1973. She became its first president.
The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport. It is the principal organizing body of women’s professional tennis, and governs the WTA Tour, the worldwide professional tennis tour for women.
Born from Protest
Gaining Recognition and Equality
Born from the “Original 9,” the group of eight brave women, plus Billie Jean, who signed a $1 contract to join the Virginia Slims Circuit in protest against the inequity in prize money awarded in the men’s and women’s games, the WTA was created at a gathering of more than 60 players in a room at the Gloucester Hotel in London, one week before Wimbledon. The WTA immediately began helping women tennis players gain recognition and equality.
A Global Effort
In 1976, Chris Evert became the first female athlete to win over $1,000,000 in career earnings. Over 250 women were playing professionally by 1980, when the WTA Tour consisted of 47 global events, offering women tennis players a total of $7.2 million in prize money. In 1986, Martina Navratilova passed $10 million in career earnings.
The increase in prize money offered to women tennis players produced a ripple effect across all women’s sports, with female athletes gaining well-deserved and long-overdue recognition, endorsement deals, and pay equity with their male counterparts. Men and women now compete for equal prize money at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Today, the WTA has more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations. Its players are competing for a record $139 million in prize money.