40th anniversary of Family Circle Cup mirrors participation progressed gained by girls and women via Title IX
Title IX was fresh ink when Rosie Casals defeated Nancy Gunter at Hilton Head to win the first Family Circle Cup singles final in 1973. The historic piece of the Education Amendment of 1972 became best known as the ticket for girls and women to participate equally in high school and college athletics.
Today, the Family Circle Cup officially begins commemorating its 40th anniversary with the start of 2012 qualifying matches on Daniel Island. It is also a celebration of empowerment.
“You cannot see so many girls participating in sports these days and not look back to Billie Jean King and the other great tennis players of the past and realize their tremendous impact,” said Family Circle Cup general manager Bob Moran.
Follow the numbers and it’s easy to appreciate how the Women’s Tennis Association — founded by King in 1972 — and the Family Circle Cup mirror the impact of Title IX:
Billie Jean King
June, 1972: Title IX enacted
April, 1973: King plays in first Family Circle Cup
June, 1973: Women’s Tennis Association founded
September, 1973: King defeats Bobby Riggs at the Astrodome in “Battle of the Sexes” match
“What I really wanted to do more than anything else was to beat Bobby Riggs, because I wanted to start, at least, to change the hearts and minds of the people to match Title IX,” King said recently before a speech at Washington University in St. Louis.
WTA prize money
1980: $7.2 million
1990: $23 million
2000: $49 million
2012: $90 million
Title IX impact
Girls participating in U.S. high school athletics:
Founding players of first women’s professional tennis tour to be honored at a Family Circle Cup ceremony next Saturday night:
Billie Jean King
Kerry Melville Reid
Judy Tegart Dalton
Venus Williams, 2004 Family Circle Cup champion and a 2012 entrant, led criticism of unequal pay at Grand Slam events. Finally, the French Open in 2007 followed Wimbledon and caught up with equal policies at the Australian Open and U.S. Open.
“It was just a matter of time before Grand Slams had to step up and pay equal money to all humans,” Venus said.