A Milestone in Development
Global sponsorship, grand slam women tennis players, and captivating athleticism, name it and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has achieved it. These are what founder Billie Jean King saw in her vision 40 years ago. Gone were the days when they were refused of rankings and lived to an unfair ratio of prize purse. Today, female players have arrived and they have given equal opportunity in sports. There is no more unfavourable battle against men players. They sought equality and fairness and have seized them all throughout the years.
Who would’ve thought that the association which was bravely formed at Gloucester Hotel is now a little tiger in the tennis court with members unceasingly gathering grand slam crowns and sweeping contenders off? They have come too far and they are in it to strengthen and foster female sports leadership. Let’s take a look on their journey and savour unforgettable points that marked their history as a team.
1990 – Sponsor Virginia Slims’ 15-year loyalty to WTA was broken with the coming of Kraft General Foods. This ensued to a $23million increase in prize fund. The first ever $1million prize purse was launched and Martina Navratilova won her ninth Wimbledon title.
1991 – Monica Seles, the youngest French Open champion, ranked second in passing the $2 million earning mark in a season.
1995 – Aside from doubling the prize money to $2 million, WTA in this year had also merged and collaborated with Women’s Tennis Council which brought the formation of WTA Tour. Sponsorships also began pouring in and ended the year with Corel Software Corporation as one of its generous sponsors.
1996 – Born from highly-accomplished tennis player parents, Martina Hingis was named as the youngest tennis player ever who snatched the Grand Slam Champion title.
1997 – Hingis undisputedly graced the World No. 1 female tennis player which ended Steffi Graf’s reign for 377 weeks. She was also recognised as the fastest tennis player who won $1 million earning in a season.
1998 – Graf had won the Leipzig tour which made her surpassed Navratilova’s $20.3 million prize purse record.
1999 – Graf’s last few years in the tennis court were succumbed by knees and back injuries. In August of the same year, Graf broke the news of her retirement. Her whole tennis career left WTA with a record of 22 Grand Slams and a whopping $21,896,277 total earnings. She was at World No.3.
2000 – Sanex body care products joined WTA’s elite list of sponsors. This year also marked Madison Square Garden’s goodbye to hosting season championships after 22 years.
WTA’s decade of history was faced with multitude changes, both good and bad, which only solidified their vision into becoming a fully-developed and well-harnessed tennis association. Sponsorships still come in, bearing bigger names and tennis crowns stem generously from one tour to the other. WTA has clearly developed an unquestionable sports leadership that greatly empowers women athletes. Its future is unstoppable and the enormity of its power is highly remarkable.