The WTA celebrated four decades of growth and achievement with an amazing gathering of WTA World No.1s at the All-England Club in London.
Along with Maria the other No.1’s that were honored were: Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Justine Henin, Amelie Mauresmo, Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki.
“The WTA’s 40th Anniversary has given us time to reflect on the impact and inspiration women’s professional tennis has had on generations of women,” WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster said of the announcement. “This event will provide an amazing opportunity to pay tribute to our Founder Billie Jean King, a pioneer for social change, and the champions who have been responsible for carrying on the vision of equality and empowerment around the world, for the past for decades and onward.”
The WTA was founded in 1973, when 63 players, led by Billie Jean King, met behind locked doors in the Gloucester Hotel, London, to form an association seeking equality, recognition and respect. Forty years later, the WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport, and proudly counts many pioneering accomplishments, including the successful campaign for equal prize money. During this time, prize money and global presence has increased from $1.9 million with tournaments in 10 countries in its inaugural year, to $118 million with events in 33 different countries in 2013.
“When we gathered in that hotel room 40 years ago, our vision was that any girl, anywhere in the world, could make a living from tennis if she was good enough,” Billie Jean King commented. “Today’s WTA players are living that dream. They’ve taken the baton and run with it, lifting the game to new heights and inspiring a whole new generation of players. I can’t believe how far we’ve come and I couldn’t be happier to join these inspirational women to celebrate 40 great years on Sunday.”