A Decade of Growth

After Billie Jean King’s unfathomable commitment and dedication to Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), her gender equality advocacy paid off as it brought a commendable improvement in the history of women’s tennis tournaments. Her vision of brighter sports future for women particularly in tennis has become more accepted and revealed with the growing emergence of professional women tennis players who triumphed from every tennis circuit and tournament.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you may have heard about beautiful and strong women tennis players such as Serena and Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Maria Sharapova. Their rankings speak volumes about how much WTA has already achieved and how far it has travelled ever since that day when King and eight other renegades established the Virginia Slims Circuit. We traced the WTA’s history and picked up memorable highlights that helped shape their place today.

1980 – From $309,100 prize fund a decade ago, it increased to a total purse of $7.2 million. Not only did it show an improvement in terms of prize earnings, this year also showed a growing number of women players reaching a 250 count who participated in 47 global tennis tournaments.

1982- Tennis player and coach, Martina Navratilova was recorded as the first woman who bagged over $1 million earning.

The Championships - Wimbledon 2010: Day Thirteen

1983- WTA charmed numerous sponsorships ever since it was founded in 1973. These include AVON and Toyota but in this year, Virginia Slims, a cigarette brand, returned sponsorship and replaced the two initial companies.

1984- Martina Navratilova continued shining her light as she crossed the $2 million mark in earnings beating John McEnroe. The International Tennis Federation also awarded her with $1 million bonus for winning four grand slam single crowns simultaneously.

1986- Navratilova continued to emerge in her career as she went beyond the $10million mark.

1988- Steffi Graf, believed to be the greatest women’s tennis player, made her mark by being named as the second woman who entered the Open Era. Graf held the most grand slam wins including the most coveted Olympic title.

1990- After Virginia Slims’ return in 1983, Kraft General Foods had taken over its sponsorship spot and increased the tennis purse into a whopping $23million. This year was also the time when Navratilova won against Zinna Garrison, a tour that claimed her ninth Wimbledon singles triumph.

Indeed, tennis tournaments are no longer a world dominated by men. The names of professional female tennis players we’ve heard and have been hearing echo the flipped standards in terms of equal opportunity in sports. Tennis is now battle of the sexes where all genders are favoured equally, something that founder King and the rest of the Original 9 have envisioned and it has now been realised.

Women’s Tennis Association continues to emerge as a global leader not only in tennis tours and circuits but more so on professional sports that involve professional females. It is a picture of growth, trailblazers and powerful women.

© 2013 Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Information and Statistics