A half-century later, Billie Jean King thinks back on the landmark gathering of female tennis players at a London hotel shortly before they competed at Wimbledon and acknowledges she wasn’t sure how things would go that day.
“I had no idea. Absolute toss-up. Because you never really know. What I did know was that certain players didn’t like what we were trying to do,” King said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And I did know it had to happen that day. Had to.”
Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the meeting on June 21, 1973, at the Gloucester Hotel, about a mile south of Hyde Park in the heart of the British capital, where King and nearly 60 other players agreed to form what today is known as the Women’s Tennis Association or WTA. They paved the way for their sport, and women’s sports in general, to grow.
A reunion at that same hotel on June 30 is planned, with King, a twice-inducted member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and an equal rights advocate, along with a dozen or so other founding members of the WTA, such as Rosie Casals, Betty Stöve, Françoise Dürr and Ingrid Löfdahl-Bentzer.