National Hispanic Heritage Month: Rosie Casals on the Original 9 and birth of women’s pro tennis

September 12, 2015 – The Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball at Cipriani in New York,

September 12, 2015 – The Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball at Cipriani in New York. Photo courtesy of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

At the US Open, the USTA celebrated the Original 9, who signed $1 contracts in 1970 to start the Virginia Slims Tour, the first such women’s professional tennis tour. Today it’s emerged as the Woman’s Tennis Association, which has become the most powerful women’s sports league/tour in the world.

In the video below, Rosie Casals recalls the early days of Open tennis and the conflict that lead to the Original 9 breaking away, with great risks to their careers, to start something their own so they can rightfully earn what they deserve.

In addition to Casals, the Original 9 also featured Billie Jean King, Nancy Richey, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Valerie Ziegenfuss, Julie Heldman, Kerry Melville Reid and Judy Tegart Dalton.

Supporting the tour was World Tennis magazine publisher Gladys Heldman, who secured Virginia Slims as a valuable corporate sponsor.

Casals, whose family comes from San Salvador, spoke to Ginn & Topics as part of its special presentation for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

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