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From Florida back to London: WTA celebrates 50 years

From Florida back to London: WTA celebrates 50 years

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) is based right here in St. Petersburg, Florida. But this past week, the WTA made its home over in London. While the tennis world is fixated on Wimbledon, the WTA got back to its roots at the Gloucester Hotel. 

Why? Turning back the clock, the WTA was founded in 1973 when some 60 players joined forces to give women's professional tennis a stronger, unified voice. To celebrate the occasion, 13 of those trailblazing athletes reunited at the same London venue where that momentous meeting took place, five decades ago. 

According to Greg Garber (via WTA), Billie Jean King and these other WTA legends returned to the Gloucester Hotel, the site where it all began 50 years ago, to reminisce and share their cherished memories.  

“Times were very tumultuous,” King said. "The prize money was terrible for us. Rod Laver made 2,000 pounds in ’68, and I made 750. June 21st was a Thursday before Wimbledon in 1973. One of the big reasons everybody showed up was that most of us were staying at the Gloucester Hotel — it was the first time we got a free room, and we were over the moon."

“I think we were fortunate to find someone like [King] to lead women’s tennis,” said Rosie Casals who won seven Grand Slams as King’s doubles partner. “You come back 50 years later, even if the room’s not the same, and even if we don’t quite look the same.

“There’s something that really binds us together, all the things we did together. We believed in one another, supported one another. Played one another, beat one another, lost, cried, practiced — we did it all together.

Casals reflected, "It’s been a great journey."


Written by Florida Tennis' Executive Editor and Publisher Matt Pressman. Source/Photo/Video: WTA.

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