The International Tennis Hall of Fame is now showing a special museum exhibition at the US Open that highlights the history of The Original 9 and World TeamTennis - two important developments in the sport of tennis, both driven by Hall of Famer and tennis legend, Billie Jean King.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame's exhibit is located in the American Express US Open Fan Experience in the Chase Center and will be displayed for the duration of the tournament. An exhibit scavenger hunt is available to visitors, making it a fun and educational experience for all ages.
"The Original 9 and World TeamTennis exhibit utilizes a variety of objects from the International Tennis Hall of Fame's museum collection to showcase these two pivotal developments in tennis history," said Museum Director Doug Stark. "We are glad to be back at the US Open once again this year and to provide fans with an opportunity to learn about an important aspect of history through our museum collection."
The Original 9 portion of the exhibit explores the creation of the Virginia Slims Circuit and, ultimately, of the WTA Tour, following the monumental signing of $1 contracts by nine women who set out to create an opportunity to grow women's tennis as a viable professional sport. At the time, some tournaments had an 8-to-1 gap in prize money, in favor of men. Several women approached Gladys Heldman of World Tennis Magazine about developing a women's tour, and through a lot of work and commitment, women's pro tennis was born. Among the items showcased in the exhibit are a photo of the historic moment when the Original 9 - Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, and Valerie Ziegenfuss - signed their $1 pro contracts with Gladys Heldman and Philip Morris CEO Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd. Highlights of the display include a sequined tennis dress worn by Rosie Casals and an appreciation plaque awarded to Gladys Heldman with the honor of "Champion Hustler" for her commitment to making women's pro tennis possible.
The World TeamTennis portion of the exhibit commemorates 40 years of the innovative, coed professional tennis league that Billie Jean King founded in 1974. In July 2015, Mylan World TeamTennis became just the fifth major professional team sports league in the United States to reach the 40th season mark, joining an elite list that includes the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. The exhibit showcases how Mylan WTT has been an innovative industry leader, known for introducing new elements to tennis, including: teams featuring men and women in equal roles, cumulative and no-ad scoring, on-court coaching and timeouts, instant replay, Extended Play and Supertiebreakers, multi-colored courts, and player names on the back of shirts. Billie Jean King's custom Philadelphia Freedoms tennis dress is among the items on display. The exhibit also showcases many great photos highlighting the past 40 years of WTT, including a visit to The White House by the Washington Kastles, and photos of some of the sport's greatest legends in WTT action, including Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and many others.