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Women's Recreation Wednesday

This week features photos of women playing tennis. “Today, tennis is a major international sport and a multi-billion dollar industry – and it’s also one of the few sports in which the earning potential of male and female athletes is totally equal.”1

Woman playing tennis [2]
Woman playing tennis [2]

However, it took a long time for equality to be achieved. Tennis first emerged in the mid-19th century as lawn tennis “after a British major and a Spanish merchant combined aspects of the British game rackets and the Spanish game pelota…The two opened the first tennis club in 1874….Even back in 1874, women were still playing mixed doubles.”1 Wimbledon was founded in 1877 as a fundraiser and “the first Ladies’ Championship at the tournament was held in 1884.”1

Fern Eberhardt
Fern Eberhardt
Woman playing tennis [1]
Woman playing tennis [1]

Tennis, however, “remained a highly segregated sport well into the 20th century.” “The first African American player to break into tennis was Althea Gibson…who became the first person of color to win a Grand Slam when she won the French Open in 1956.”1

Wimbledon “became the last Grand Slam to equalize…prize money” between men and women in 2007. “The change was thanks in large part to pressure from both the WTA and tennis stars, especially Venus Williams…”1

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Women’s Recreation Wednesday!


Photos courtesy of UG 69 (University of Idaho Women’s Recreation Association Photographs)

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