By Saswat Pattanayak
US Open is the first sporting event in history to offer equal prize money for men and women competitors and this year will mark 50th anniversary of this landmark. No wonder then that “equal pay” will become the central theme for this year’s grand slam at the Flushing Meadows.
The nine-month celebration of this theme begins today on Equal Pay Day in the United States. The celebration will include campaigns to bring awareness of this significant achievement, pioneered by Billie Jean King herself when she won the women’s singles title at the 1972 US Open and demanded to settle for nothing less than equal pay.
“King’s ultimatum set the tone for a momentous year ahead, which first saw the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association. In 1973, men and women competing at the US Open played for total purses of $100,000, including a $25,000 payout to both the men’s and women’s singles champion,” according to the US Open.
King went on to then defeat Bobby Riggs in the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match at Houston’s Astrodome, a match that helped to “propel the women’s movement in both sports and in society, and still remains the most-watched tennis match ever.”