Inequities persist for women in tennis

News & Politics

Tomorrow night, HBO is set to premiere Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer, which profiles the trailblazing tennis player who fought for equal pay and opportunity on behalf of female athletes. (I've seen some previews for it; it looks quite good.)

Broadsheet reports on just one of the many effects King had on her legions of fans:

In 1973, King famously played played male tennis star Bobby Riggs in front of 30,000 people in the Astrodome and 90 million on worldwide television, beating Riggs in straight sets. She says that she is still approached by men about that match. She calls them "the first generation of men in the women's movement," and reports that when they talk to her about it, "they have tears in their eyes, they're in their late 40s and 50s. 'I was really young when I watched your match, I have a daughter now. I cannot tell you how that changed my life and how I raise my daughter.'"
It's strange to think how recently it was that the thought of a professional female athlete being able to hold her own against, no less beat, a male peer was nothing short of revolutionary. That men to this day tell King that her willingness to put herself out there like that affected the way they raised their daughters speaks to what a big deal it really was. So inspiring.

Which made reading this post at Feministing all the more disheartening:
The prize money at Wimbledon this year will be to $1.17 million for the men’s champion and $1.1 million for the women’s.
Wimbledon is the only grand slam tennis event not to pay men and women equally.
Come on, Wimbledon. Get it together. At a time when we're celebrating the legacy of Billie Jean King, such disparity should be ancient history.

(Broadsheet, Feministing)

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