Thanks to the courage of tennis great Billie Jean King, equality exists for women in the world of sports today. The TITLE IX law has created enormous opportunity for the masses. King recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of TITLE IX via the WOMEN’S SPORTS FOUNDATION, which she is founder.
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
King pushed for higher fees for women athletes, which led firms like Philip Morris and Virginia Slims to sponsor women’s tournaments. When she won the U.S. Open in 1972, she received $15,000 less than did the men’s winner, Ilie Nastase. She threatened to boycott the 1973 U.S. Open if it did not equalize prize money between women and men athletes. The tournament agreed to do so, setting a precedent.
In 1974 she was one of the founders and the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association. That year, with support from Gloria Steinem and Ms., King also founded womenSports magazine and the Women’s Sports Foundation. With King’s backing, the magazine and foundation became powerful voices for women in sports.
The foundation has helped women athletes obtain college scholarships, and it began its own grants programs to support summer camps and fund traveling and training scholarships for promising young female athletes. The foundation has played an important role in using Title IX to push for greater equality in athletic opportunities for men and women. Although women athletes still get fewer teams, fewer scholarships, and lower budgets than their male counterparts, since Title IX’s passage, female athletic participation has increased by 904 percent at the high school level and by 456 percent at the college level.
**** VIDEO: 40th Anniversary of TITLE IX: “Keep Her In the Game” ****