The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s exhibit is located in the American Express US Open Fan Experience in the Chase Center and will be displayed for the duration of the tournament. An exhibit scavenger hunt is available to visitors, making it a fun and educational experience for all ages.
“The Original 9 and World TeamTennis exhibit utilizes a variety of objects from the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s museum collection to showcase these two pivotal developments in tennis history,” said Museum Director Doug Stark. “We are glad to be back at the US Open once again this year and to provide fans with an opportunity to learn about an important aspect of history through our museum collection.”
The Original 9 portion of the exhibit explores the creation of the Virginia Slims Circuit and, ultimately, of the WTA Tour, following the monumental signing of $1 contracts by nine women who set out to create an opportunity to grow women’s tennis as a viable professional sport. At the time, some tournaments had an 8-to-1 gap in prize money, in favor of men. Several women approached Gladys Heldman of World Tennis Magazine about developing a women’s tour, and through a lot of work and commitment, women’s pro tennis was born. Among the items showcased in the exhibit are a photo of the historic moment when the Original 9 – Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, and Valerie Ziegenfuss – signed their $1 pro contracts with Gladys Heldman and Philip Morris CEO Joseph F. Cullman, 3rd. Highlights of the display include a sequined tennis dress worn by Rosie Casals and an appreciation plaque awarded to Gladys Heldman with the honor of “Champion Hustler” for her commitment to making women’s pro tennis possible.
Located in Newport, Rhode Island, the International Tennis Hall of Fame preserves and promotes the history of tennis from its origins through present-day, and celebrates the fascinating life stories of the game’s greatest champions. The museum recently underwent a complete renovation, re-opening in May 2015 with all new exhibits and more than 1,900 artifacts on display. For additional information, please visit www.tennisfame.com.