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Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Gender Pay Equity At The U.S. Open 50 Years Later

  • Tennis icon Billie Jean King to be celebrated Monday for her activism and its impact
  • Despite historic gains, more needs to be done to advance gender equity in sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 U.S. Open will celebrate the tournament’s trailblazing role in advancing gender pay equity — not only in tennis but across sports.

Fifty years ago, the tournament became the first sporting event to offer equal prize money to male and female competitors, the result of determined activism by Billie Jean King. The tennis icon had won the 1972 U.S. Open only to find her $10,000 prize to be $15,000 less than men’s winner Ilie Năstase.

“When I think about it, it feels more and more like a Jackie Robinson moment,” U.S. Open tournament director Stacey Allaster said of King’s stand.

King will be honored at a ceremony to recognize the 50th anniversary of that achievement and its broader impact on Monday. But both King and the USTA recognize there is still much work to be done to advance equality in women’s sports.

Those battles continue to be fought across numerous avenues, including better travel for WNBA and NWSL players, higher prize pools for national team players in women’s soccer, and encouraging more investment in women’s sports.

And though pay equity is now a given in tennis’ majors, that is still not the case throughout the sport. 

“Asset-value appreciation is the big driver. We need that mindset [in women’s sports],” Allaster said on the Front Office Sports Today podcast. “We need those that have the resources to invest in women’s sports. We need brands to contribute — and as important, all of us as consumers, we need to watch.”

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