The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

50 years of equal prize money in the US Open

Image by Alopa Rao (’24)
The great Billie Jean King.

     Like South, the US Open is also celebrating a 50th anniversary this year–the 50th anniversary of equal prize money for both male and female tennis players.

     The US Open is a grand slam tennis tournament. It started in 1968 and is held annually in Flushing, NY.

     Speaking of this anniversary, co-captain of the girls tennis team Eliana Du (‘24) said “This is symbolic of a step towards more equality in women’s sports as a whole. Women are putting in the same amount of effort as male athletes.”

     Angie Huang (‘27) said, “The US Open paying everybody the same amount and letting women get the same recognition as men changed how women athletes get viewed.”

     Equal prize money in the US Open was made possible by Billie Jean King. In 1970, King and eight other female players signed a one dollar contract with the Virginia Slim Circuits, a tennis tour. They signed this contract because they wanted to protest against the gender inequality in tennis pay rate.

     Despite the male dominated industry, she wanted to find people to promote their tournaments, and was eventually successful. Companies such as British Motor Cars started sponsoring these matches.

     The tournament ended up having over $300,000 in total prize money. This helped make some progress in the case of unfair prize money, but there were still many equality gaps for women in tennis.

     King defeated Kerry Melville to win the 1972 US Open women’s singles title. The male singles champion, Ilie Nastase, received $25,000, but King received 60 percent less than him.

     In a video interview shared by Boardwalk Productions, King recalled the situation and said “I just won $10,000 and Ilie Nastase won the men’s singles and he won $25,000. It was an irritant anyway, that we weren’t getting equal, but I don’t know what came over me.”

     Angered by this disparity, King and other female players threatened to pull out of the US Open until this was resolved.

     “In the 1972 media conference, I said, you know, I don’t think we’re gonna be coming back next year unless we get equal prize money,” King said. 

     The US Open soon announced that both the winners would receive $25,000. It became the first athletic event to give equal prize money to both males and females.

     It has been 50 years since this event took place. The US Open celebrated this achievement on Aug 28, 2023, in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY. King and former First Lady Michelle Obama made a speech to celebrate this accomplishment. Singer Sara Bareilles performed her hit song “Brave.”

    As for South, the girls tennis team has been competing with other schools. It was established in the spring of 1975, according to the South Athletic Director, Katharine Dobinson.

     The new girls tennis coach for the Varsity team at South, Coach Pat Kelly, stated that people needed “to get more eyes on” women’s games and contribute in “as much advertising money as they can” to show that women’s sports are just as profitable as men’s.

     The journey of women in sports has been long. While today there are salary gaps in men’s and women’s sports, the situation has gotten better. 

    King said during her 50 year anniversary speech, “While we celebrate today, our work is far from done.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Pirate's Eye Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *