Women's Tennis Association (WTA)
"We called a meeting. It was June 20th. It was four days before Wimbledon. And we somehow were able to get the top players in the same room. I had Betty Stove, who is a wonderful Dutch player, who came along with us on the Virginia Slims Tour. Betty is big, strong, and intimidating, so I said, Betty, lock the doors. Don't let anybody out. We have to have this - we're either going to have an association by the time this is over, or we're not. So she stood at the back, literally stood there like a security guard, and some of the women did want to leave, and she said, no you can't leave. And so we had our vote, and lo and behold everyone actually heard because I got up there to speak as the leader and said we have to do this, we've got to be one voice. And we let them ask questions and just tried to answer and persuade them. That's how we got the association going."
-Billie Jean King on how the WTA got started
The WTA gave women more opportunities in tennis. By 1980, over 250 women were playing professionally. The tour consisted of 47 global events, offering a total of 7.2 million dollars in prize money.
"The WTA was founded on the principles of equality and the empowerment of women through the great Billie Jean King. It was her vision that a women’s-only tour would be commercially successful and that any girl in the world could play professional tennis."
"1970-1973 was a critical time for King. She was winning Grand Slams. She was getting the USTA to pay equal prize money. When you hear it from Billie, the weight of the world was on her shoulders. She had to show that women were confident, strong and equal."
-Stacey Allaster, CEO of the WTA
[Source: Washington Post]