Tennis players like Coco Gauff are a reminder of why Billie Jean King and others fought for equal pay 50 years ago.

On the 50th anniversary of equal pay at the US Open, King told People that Gauff winning the tournament is “the reason” why she and other female athletes fought for equal pay in 1973. Wednesday is also the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Sexes, a tennis match that King won against Bobby Riggs.

“With women’s sports particularly, they paid a lot of attention to that match because there was a guy involved,” she told People. “If you got a guy involved, you got a lot more attention. I still think that holds true today to a certain degree, but not to the extent it was back then.”

King won equal pay for the 1973 US Open by bringing a sponsorship company on board. In the years that followed, the other three major tournaments joined in committing to equal pay. It’s been that way ever since, and Gauff’s win at this year’s US Open was a highlight.

“Coco winning was just fantastic,” King told People. “When I see her, she’s the reason we fought so hard 50 years ago.”

She also called the 19-year-old someone who is “going to be really fantastic for our sport. While Gauff has proven herself on the court, she’s also become an advocate for social justice.

“I think she’s such a force,” King said, adding that her “background and care for social justice” make her a great role model before adding that part of it comes from her grandmother. Gauff’s grandmother, Yvonne Lee Odom, was the first Black child to integrate to an all-white school in Delray back in 1961.

“To hear her story, if you’re a granddaughter and you’re hearing your grandmother talk about going to a white school, being the only Black child, I think she’s such a force,” King said. “But I want her to be happy, number one. She’s really exciting to watch and a great athlete.”

Nebraska volleyball made history Wednesday, setting the attendance record for a women’s sporting event with 92,003 fans packing Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium to watch the team beat Omaha 3-0.

Organizers anticipated “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” would surpass the previous record, held by FC Barcelona. But reality exceeded expectations, for those in attendance and those watching from home.

“It’s incredible. I don’t have enough words to describe it,” Nebraska middle blocker Andi Jackson said. “We were walking out of the tunnel after the second set, and we heard on the speaker we had just broken the world record. Everyone was trying to stay locked in, but we were also so excited. I can’t describe how grateful I am to be a part of it.”

LSU women’s basketball star Angel Reese had her eyes on the spectacle from afar, and now she wants to see her team play in Tiger Stadium, her school’s 102,321-capacity football stadium in Baton Rouge.

“LET’S MAKE THIS HAPPEN!” she said in response to one fan suggesting the idea. In a separate post, she added: “Women’s sports is growing and I love that for us.”

Of course, Iowa women’s basketball is already making it happen in October. The Hawkeyes are hosting an exhibition game in 69,250-capacity Kinnick Stadium, with all proceeds going to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. That game set to break the record for the most-attended women’s basketball game.

And Iowa star Caitlin Clark also was among those awed by Nebraska’s feat, reacting to a video of the Cornhuskers walking out of the tunnel with one word: “Sheesh.”

Other big names also applauded the event, with Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson calling it “dope.” Tennis legend Billie Jean King called it “outstanding” before calling for the continued growth of women’s sports.

Nebraska volleyball players were glad their match, which was televised on Big Ten Network, reached such a wide audience.

“I’ve been saying it’s so huge for little girls to get to see a women’s sport and volleyball being played on this big of a stage and having so many people invest in it,” junior Lexi Rodriguez said. “When you’re little, you have big dreams and big goals. Having this to look up to is something that a lot of little girls will keep in the back of their mind when they’re pursuing the sport of volleyball.”

Tennis star Ons Jabeur is joining the North Carolina Courage as a minority owner, the club announced Friday.

In doing so, Jabeur joins a long list of athletes who have invested in NWSL clubs, including Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Serena Williams and Sue Bird.

These stars are putting their money into a booming league. The 2022 NWSL final drew 915,000 viewers, a 71% increase from the 2021 final. And franchise valuations have skyrocketed: The Washington Spirit sold for $35 million in February; Gotham FC were valued at $40 million in August; and the Portland Thorns were valued at $60 million ahead of their upcoming sale.

Just Women’s Sports highlights some of the NWSL’s top athlete investors during the 2023 season.

Angel City FC

The Los Angeles-based club features a long roster of investors, including NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford, his wife Kelly and their daughters.

“We fell in love with attending an Angel City game last season and wanted our daughters to experience something so important and powerful first-hand,” Matthew and Kelly Stafford said in a news release.

The list of investors includes many former U.S. women’s national team players, including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Rachel Buehler, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Shannon MacMillan, Angela Hucles Mangano and Saskia Webber.

Retired tennis players Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker, former USMNT player Cobi Jones, former NHL defender P.K. Subban, U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East and former NFL long snapper Andrew East also are investors.

Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and her investor group have reached an agreement to buy the Red Stars.

The group includes Angela Barnes, chief legal officer of IDEO; Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas and a partner in the Pittsburgh Penguins ownership group; Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO of Impact Engine; Jennifer Pritzker, president and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises; and Sidney Dillard, a partner at Chicago’s Loop Capital.

Houston Dash

NBA star James Harden joined the ownership group for the Dash and their MLS counterpart, the Houston Dynamo, in July 2019. While the 2018 NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2022-23 season, he played for the Houston Rockets from 2012-21.

Gotham FC

The New York City-area team pulled in several big-name investors in 2022, among them former USWNT and Gotham forward Carli Lloyd, four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning.

Kansas City Current

Patrick Mahomes will join his wife Brittany and Current co-owners Angie and Chris Long as an investor in the club, which enters 2023 looking to build on its 2022 NWSL championship appearance.

“I am excited to join another championship-caliber club as it continues to make history,” the 2018 NFL MVP and 2020 Super Bowl MVP said in a statement.

North Carolina Courage

Naomi Osaka invested in the Courage in 2021. The 25-year-old tennis star is a four-time major singles champion and topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid female athletes in the world with $51.1 million in earnings in 2022. Fellow tennis star Ons Jabeur joined Osaka as an investor in the Courage in August 2023.

“Soccer and female empowerment are my main passions outside of tennis,” Jabeur said. “When Naomi took an equity stake in the Courage, I asked her if she would give me a starting position as a striker, but she said no… so I did the next best thing and become an owner. The Courage are the perfect club for me in terms of shared values and ambitions, both on and off the field.”

OL Reign

Former NBA point guard Tony Parker, who played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001-18 and for the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-19, holds a minority stake in the Seattle-based club.

Washington Spirit

Former USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry and U.S. Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes joined the Spirit as minority investors in 2021.

The US Open will celebrate 50 years of equal prize money this summer. The theme art for this year’s tournament commemorates the accomplishment.

As the first Grand Slam to implement equal pay in the Open era, the US Open did so in 1973. The change was sparked by tennis great Billie Jean King, who continues to fight for equal pay across women’s sports. It took decades for the other Slams to follow suit, with the Australian Open implementing equal prize money in 2001 and the French Open and Wimbledon waiting until 2006 and 2007, respectively.

“The USTA is incredibly proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of awarding equal prize money at this year’s US Open, and to honor Billie Jean King’s efforts to make this a reality,” USTA president Brian Hainline said in a statement.  “No individual has done more to secure equality for female athletes than Billie Jean King. Her impact goes far beyond the tennis court, and there is no better time to celebrate her legacy than on the anniversary of this historic milestone.”

“It was a lot of hard work,” King told USA Today. She says she remembers being “exhausted all the time” during what was a pivotal year for tennis and “women in general.”

“In 1972, I won and got $10,000, while the men’s champion, Ilie Nastase, won and got $25,000,” she continued. “This was ridiculous so I said, ‘I don’t think the women are going to be back next year, we’re not going to be back in 1973 unless we get equal prize money.’ I’m saying this but just hoping and trusting the other players would go along with it at that point.”

Yet King knew that they wouldn’t accomplish anything through complaints alone. Instead, she helped to come up with solutions.

“I knew I had to not just complain, but to come up with solutions,” she said. “So I talked to different sponsors and asked them if they’d make up the difference in total prize money. I was a business woman and this was a business decision, so I knew if I got some sponsors to pay more money, I was hoping that would make the difference, and it did.”

Wimbledon’s all-white dress code will see some changes in 2023 and beyond.

While players have long worn all white at the famed English tournament, some of the women’s players raised concerns this year with the dress code.

Olympic champion Monica Puig spoke out on the stress of the all-white requirement for players competing during their periods, and Australian tennis player Daria Gavrilova revealed to The Daily Aus that she had to skip her period around the tournament.

“Recently just being at Wimbledon, I was talking with my friends saying that I love the all-white look. But then a few girls said they hate it because it sucks to wear all white while being on your period,” she said.

“It’s true, I myself had to skip my period around Wimbledon, for the reason that I didn’t want to worry about bleeding through, as we already have enough other stress.”

While the traditional all-white garment rule will not change, current guidelines outline that undergarments “that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of color no wider than one centimeter.”

That rule is set to be removed for female players, who will be allowed to wear colored undergarments – including underwear sports bras. The all-white rule will be limited to the top layer of clothing.

“Prioritizing women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that,” The All England Club said in a statement Tuesday.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King called the all-white dress code “horrible” in an interview this week with CNN, echoing the sentiments Puig and Gavrilova shared about the stress of white undergarments for players on their periods.

“We’re always checking whether we’re showing. You get tense about it because the first thing we are is entertainers and you want whatever you wear to look immaculate, look great,” King told CNN. “We’re entertainers. We’re bringing it to the people.”

Just Women’s Sports announced Thursday that it has raised $6 million in new funding from both new and returning investors.

The funding round was led by Blue Pool Capital, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai’s family office. New investors include tennis icon Billie Jean King; Washington Spirit owner Michele Kang; Bolt Ventures, the family office of financier and team owner David Blitzer; SC Holdings, a strategic entertainment investor that’s backed The SpringHill Company and Front Office Sports; Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund; Muse Capital; Dapper Labs, the leading sports NFT platform, and other institutional and angel investors.

“The business case for women’s sports has never been clearer, and Just Women’s Sports is positioned to be the leading media platform in the space,” said New York Liberty owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai. “We’re thrilled to partner with them as they enter this next phase of growth.”

From its inception, Just Women’s Sports has prioritized supporting and partnering with the athlete community. New additions to its standout roster of athlete investors include the aforementioned King, Allyson Felix, Abby Wambach, Sam Kerr, Lynn Williams, Paul Rabil and Apolo Ohno, among others. They join previous athlete investors Kelley O’Hara, Elena Delle Donne, Hilary Knight, Arike Ogunbowale and Sam Mewis.

Added King: “Just Women’s Sports is building on the foundation of earlier pioneers by creating a media platform that celebrates and elevates the incredible athletes and stories in women’s sports. Haley and her team have the vision and talent necessary to usher in a new era in sports media.”

JWS founder and CEO Haley Rosen believes the additional funding is further proof that women’s sports is entering a new era of investment and popularity, with JWS leading the way.

“Two years ago, we saw a massive opportunity to tap into an audience that was extremely underserved by traditional media,” said Rosen. “We knew the on-field product was great, and that women’s sports just needed better coverage and smarter marketing to truly break into the mainstream. This latest round of funding gives us the resources to cement our status as the leading platform in the space.”

JWS’ first quarter revenue in 2022 was four times its revenue from Q1 2021, and the company is on pace to triple its Q1 2022 revenue in Q2. JWS has likewise tripled its total audience in the last year while growing its staff from four to 25. To date, the company has worked with more than 20 of the world’s biggest brands, including Nike, Puma, Under Armour, Heineken, Cisco and DICK’s Sporting Goods.

Just Women’s Sports’ original programming includes a series of athlete-hosted podcasts and video series, as well as social media, a website, a newsletter and live events. JWS also has a growing line of exclusive merchandise, which will expand in the coming months.

JWS previously raised $3.5 million in May 2021. Returning investors in JWS include Will Ventures, Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures, OVO Fund, Supernode Global and Drive by DraftKings.

Athletes are reacting to a bombshell report from Politico that says the Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The publication obtained a draft of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn the 1973 Supreme Court decision, which guarantees constitutional protections of abortion rights.

Washington Mystics star Natasha Cloud expressed her anger regarding the news on Twitter.

“America is NOT pro life. They’re pro birth. We still pay women less than men. Not every woman has access to health care. We don’t focus on fixing and building our education system. Price of housing….disgusting,” Cloud wrote.

Sue Bird also addressed the news Monday night.

Napheesa Collier of the Minnesota Lynx called the move “heartbreaking” and a “blow to women’s rights.”

U.S. Olympic swimmer Erica Sullivan, who won silver in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics, is visiting the White House as part of a celebration of the athletes from the most recent Summer and Winter Games.

“Since I’m meeting the president tomorrow, do I ask why he didn’t pack the court so Roe v. Wade couldn’t get overturned,” Sullivan wrote on Twitter.

Tennis icon and gender-equity activist Billie Jean King spoke out on Tuesday, writing, “It is vital that we do all we can to protect this legislation.”

In September, more than 500 women athletes were included in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court calling on the nine justices to uphold abortion rights. Athletes included Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lynn Williams, Brittney Griner, Nneka Ogwumike and more.

“Women’s increased participation and success in sports has been propelled to remarkable heights by women’s exercise of, and reliance on, constitutional guarantees of liberty and gender equality, including the right to reproductive autonomy,” the brief stated. “If women were to be deprived of these constitutional guarantees, the consequences for women’s athletics — and for society as whole — would be devastating.”

Should the initial draft opinion be upheld, 22 states that have some form of abortion ban in place will be immediately impacted by the ruling.

The buzz-filled, block-long line started forming outside 594 Broadway well before noon yesterday. Lines outside stores are nothing new in SoHo, but this one felt pretty refreshing.

The store folks were waiting on is a new “pop-up museum” from Wilson that celebrates the brand’s long history in tennis as New York City readies for the US Open. And the real draw was the tennis legend who was on hand to officially open the location: the truly incomparable Billie Jean King.

Rather than relaxing in the glow of her 39(!!!) Grand Slam titles (12 singles, 16 women’s doubles and 11 mixed doubles), her massive role in the feminist movement (you’ve heard of the “Battle of the Sexes,” hopefully) and her unimpeachable status as an icon in the tennis and LGBTQ communities, the 77-year-old King is as busy as ever.

Maria-Stella Fountoulakis

King strolled into the venue waving and smiling at guests and ready to talk through Wilson’s impressive role in growing the sport of tennis, as well as discuss her just-released book, All In, an autobiography that pays special attention to her commitment to social justice. 

Merely being in the presence of such a legend is pretty awe-inspiring. In King’s case, hearing her talk at an event that would have been awesome even if she just posed for a couple of pics, it’s doubly special since everything she says is so thoughtful.

One picture in the exhibit focused on Jack Kramer, who helped make tennis a viable profession after decades of it being strictly amateur.

“I did not like being an amateur,” King said to her co-host/guide Katrina Adams as they paused at the image. “We were the best players in the world. And where was the money going, anyway? Finally, in 1968, we got pro tennis.”

In front of a picture of Serena Williams, one of the few players, men or women, to achieve more on the court than King, she looked admiringly at the image of the 23-time Grand Slam singles champ. After reflecting proudly on what Williams achieved when she won the 2017 Australian Open while 3 months pregnant, King said, “At my age, I’ve seen a lot of generations come and go. And it’s a little sad. Now it’s Serena, Federer, Nadal’s turn—they’re winding down. There’s definitely a shift.”

Maria-Stella Fountoulakis

The last photo in the first-floor exhibit space featured Federer himself, another Wilson racquet user with 20 Slam titles to his name. Here, King just nerded out on tennis, breaking down Fed’s ability to keep his head still and the way he’s gradually changed his grip on his backhand. It wasn’t terribly useful information for non-tennis experts, but hearing King speak so intently on it provided SMR-inducing pleasure just the same.

Having completed the mini-tour, King, Adams, a few members of the media and some special guests from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, for which former WTA pro Adams serves as the Executive Director, headed upstairs for a more intimate chat. 

As Adams told JWS of her friend and mentor, “Billie Jean has never retreated in the background of anything. She is truly a hero to men and women alike for what she stands for. She’s authentic in every way. And anyone that is out there fighting for positive advocacy for equality and inclusion, we need those people.”

Maria-Stella Fountoulakis

King, who founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, only got more captivating as the conversation continued. She gave a perfect summary of the importance of Title IX and took attendees back to the early 70s when she was one of the original nine women who signed on to launch the women’s tour.

Later, King gave props to Just Women’s Sports (*smile emoji*).

“I love what you’re doing,” she said about JWS. “Even though 40 percent of professional athletes are women, we only get 4 percent of the attention. This is helping that void and get the word out, which I think is fantastic.”

Asked her thoughts on Naomi Osaka and the defending U.S. Open champ’s ongoing issues with the media, especially around press conferences, King had a lot to say.

“I haven’t had a chance to listen to her and ask that question, but I need to. I’m giving her space,” King said.

“I just want her to take care of herself, and every woman athlete, every male athlete, all athletes to take care of themselves.

“But part of your obligation as an athlete, as a professional athlete—or a performer, or in entertainment—is we have to talk to the media, because that’s part of our promotion, it’s part of our giving back for the kids, and to get people interested in our sport. They have to know who you are… how do they get to know who you are?”

King also touched on the preparation needed for the professional athlete off of the court or the field.

“I think Rookie School is really important,” she said. “You’ve gotta go through courses and you’ve got to understand what it means to be a professional athlete or entertainer. And part of that is you have to talk to the media. It’s horrible now. I’ve talked to media people. They can never get interviews with any of the players. I’m like, this is ridiculous. That’s part of their obligation. They say they have social media and their own brand, but that’s not enough. You’ve got to give to others that are helping you.”

Maria-Stella Fountoulakis

King, gesturing at the four reporters surrounding her, said, “Also, each one of you is trying to make a living. I used to sit in media conferences and, every guy—it was almost all men then—every single guy in there was just trying to make a living.

“And they were good writers! I liked reading what they had to say, even if I didn’t agree with them. We’re kind of all in this world together. So it’s not just about ‘me and my career,’ it’s about everyone. And so how can you find that balance of taking care of yourself first, and then finding ways to give back?” 

Wrapping up, King said, “I’m just not sure if we’re given enough information and understanding of what it means to be a professional athlete. I just don’t know.”

Among King’s qualities that shone throughout the event were her energy, generosity, wisdom and thoughtfulness. As Adams gave accolades for All In, King never failed to give props right back for Own the Arena, the book Adams released earlier this year. And King’s request to give the mic to the teenagers and kids in the audience to ask their thoughts and feelings about certain issues highlighted the greater mission of connecting across generations.

If King’s never-ending work to improve both sports and society at large have taught us anything, it’s that we can be sure she’ll keep going, raising others up, and making the world a better place along the way.