Billie Jean King and the Orginal 9 get together for a special ceremony at the 2023 Australian Open

Members of the Original 9 to be special guests at the 2023 Australian Open semi-finals

Billie Jean King and the Orginal 9 get together for a special ceremony at the 2023 Australian Open

In 1970, nine fearless women rebelled against the ruling authorities of the day to demand equal rights. They established their own professional circuit after signing a symbolic $1 contract, which resulted in higher prize money for women’s tennis. The circuit was named Virginia Slims Circuit, which later turned into the current-day WTA Tour.


Australians Judy Dalton and Kerry Melville Reid, along with Americans Rosie CasalsPeaches BartkowiczKristy Pigeon, and Valerie Ziegenfuss are going to take part in the long-awaited reunion along with Billie Jean. Members Julie Heldmen and Nancy Richey send their love and best wishes as they are unable to make the journey to Australia.

The Original 9 have created a long-lasting impact on women’s tennis, paving the way for other such transformations.

Australia has always been a very important part of my career and the months I spent training with the Aussies in 1964 helped me become the number one player in the world……The Original Nine signified the birth of women’s professional tennis as we know it today. Every time a woman receives a cheque for any tennis tournament anywhere in the world, she can thank the Original Nine,” King said (via


The AO Inspirational series was ideated by Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley. In order to recognize the inspirational accomplishments of women in all spheres of endeavor, the AO Inspirational Series was created.

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Who are the legendary Original nine of tennis?

the Original nine talking to the media on January 25 at the Australian Open (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Even though the Amateur Era had come to an end and the Open Tennis season had just started, the problems for even the best female players were many. The bare minimum of the problem was the unequal reward money. Women had fewer possibilities to become successful tennis players as the men’s game grew but women’s did not.

Rosie Casals and Nancy Richey joined King to speak with Gladys Heldman, editor-in-chief of World Tennis Magazine and mother of professional Julie Heldman. They planned to boycott a competition that would take place following the 1970 US Open. The prize money was not in favor of the women.


Anyone who intended to participate in an own event organized by the women was threatened with suspension by the USTA, which was known as the United States Lawn Tennis Association. Nine ladies continued to participate despite the absence of many of the best players. The tournament was won by Casals, and thus began the legacy of the WTA.

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