Billie Jean King Wants Athletes to Follow the Money

August 15, 2021

You can draw a line from the one-dollar contract that Billie Jean King and eight other players signed, in 1970, with the publisher and promoter Gladys Heldman, to form a separate women’s tennis tour, and the three million dollars that Naomi Osaka took home for winning the 2020 U.S. Open—the same amount that the men’s winner, Dominic Thiem, received. The contract with Heldman led to the founding of the Women’s Tennis Association, in 1973. That same year, King successfully pushed the U.S. Open to start offering equal prize money to women. You can extend the line further, to the fifty-five million dollars that Osaka made in a single year when endorsements are included—because King not only helped change the paradigm for women’s tennis players but also the marketplace for female athletes, and she played a significant role in the women’s movement. The New Yorker