Founded by Billie Jean King in 1973 on the principle of equal opportunity, the WTA is the world leader in women's professional sport. The WTA is one of the world's most recognised sporting organisations, comprising more than 1,650 players representing approximately 85 nations, all competing for WTA ranking points and prestigious tournament titles and prize money.
The WTA Tour comprises more than 50 events and four Grand Slams, spanning six continents and nearly 30 countries and regions, with a worldwide audience of more than 700 million viewers. The circuit culminates with the WTA Finals, which rewards the best singles and doubles players of the season based on the final rankings in the run-up to the WTA Finals. Learn more about the WTA at wtatennis.com.
THE HISTORY OF THE WTA
Billie Jean King and her group of eight other renegades were revolutionary by 1970s standards. They were two years ahead of the passage of Title IX in the United States and envisioned a better future for women's tennis.
In September 1970, the birth of women's professional tennis began when nine players signed dollar contracts with World Tennis publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in a new women's circuit, the Virginia Slims Series. The Original 9, as they were called, included Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Julie Heldman.
Heldman, along with her friend Joe Cullman of Philip Morris and several others, provided women's professional tennis with the opportunity that the Original 9 and so many others were seeking. The inaugural $7,500 Virginia Slims in Houston was established on September 23, 1970 and was the event that became the pioneer of all others.
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