Billie Jean King, Original 9 inducted into International Tennis Hall of Fame


Fifty years ago, the Original 9 changed women’s tennis for the better. Now, the group is being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Billie Jean King, Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Tegart Dalton, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Kerry Melville Reid, Nancy Richey and Val Ziegenfuss, known as the Original 9, were formally recognized by the ITHF on Saturday for their contributions to the sport.

Starting in 1970, the group pushed for the professionalization of women’s tennis, fighting governing bodies for more equitable compensation. The nine women eventually partnered with Virginia Slims and put on a series of sponsored tournaments, now seen as a trailblazing move for the growth of women’s tennis.

“We wanted any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete, to be recognized for her accomplishments, not only her looks, and most importantly, to be able to make a living playing professional tennis,” King said during her Hall of Fame speech.

King, Casals and Richey had previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame for their on-court achievements and are now the only players to receive the honor twice.