Rosie Casals was born and raised in San Francisco and learned to play tennis on the public courts at Golden Gate Park when she was about 8 years old. She attended George Washington High School and graduated in 1966. She rose to fame in the 60’s and 70’s entering the U.S. Women’s top 5 in 1964, where she remained for 11 consecutive years. She is a 7 time Wimbledon Doubles Champion winning 5 women’s doubles with Billie Jean King and 2 mixed doubles titles with Ilie Nastase owning a total of 12-time Grand Slam doubles titles.
Rosie was the singles winner of the first-ever Virginia Slims tournament in 1970, in Houston, Texas and one of the Original “9” who signed a One Dollar contract with Gladys Heldman in defiance of tennis’s governing body the USTA. She along with Billie Jean King fought for equal prize money for women and were one of the founders of the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973.
Known for her acrobatic and athletic style of play, Rosie also thrilled the crowds with her Teddy Tinling Sequence and velvet tennis dresses she accented with her colorful headbands.
Rosie is the winner of the first Family Circle Cup in 1973 earning $30,000, the highest purse ever awarded to a female or male athlete and the first tournament to carry women’s tennis live on NBC.
She was the color commentator with ABC’s Wide World of Sports Broadcaster Howard Cosell during the “Battle of The Sexes” in 1973 at the Houston Astrodome and predicted Billie Jean’s victory score. Rosie was inducted into the Marin County Hall of Fame in 1995, the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996, and the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Rosie established Sportswoman, Inc., in order to remain connected to tennis and her contemporaries like Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, and Chris Evert. In 1983 Rosie established the Women’s Tennis Classic Tour and the following year added men to become The Tennis Classics Tour. Sportswoman branched out to include charity tennis events, corporate outings, clinics, exhibitions, speaking engagements, and anything having to do with tennis.
Rosie continues her entrepreneurial ventures when she and tennis professional Tory Fretz established the Love & Love Tennis Foundation in 2015 to help promote junior tennis in the Coachella Valley. Rosie moved from Sausalito to the desert in 2001 and has been a mainstay in helping develop junior tennis in the desert. (www.lovelovetennisfoundation.com)
The Original 9
In July 2021 the O9 will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
By Rosie Casals
Courage moved us forward driven by fear of failure or no reward at the end we reached for the stars....tennis stars.
No pain no gain echoed in our heads...to be or not to be was the question if we were to go beyond what others had felt we should not or could not..where would we be now 50 years later.
To celebrate and rejoice and taste the fruit of our labor.... and success morphed into decades and then do we come to realize the heights that we reached, the courage and bravery that we shared together to become "The Original 9"
Original 9 “Our Final Stand”
It's an incredible feeling to fight for something you believe in 50 years later and that was the right to be recognized as a group who made history as the Original "9 " more than 50 years ago. We started petitioning the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017 to allow groups such as the "09" to be inducted and acknowledged for their contributions to tennis. It took persuasion, perseverance, and belief that what we were asking for was right and important to the history that was made 50 years ago by the 09. Fortunately, the IITHF Board came to the realization that perhaps some changes were in order and the Original 9 were given a chance to at least be nominated for induction in 2021 in the "Contributor's Category".
Needless to say, we are excited and honored to be recognized as the first-ever group to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. We thank the Hall of Fame, our fans, and supporters that made this possible. We are hopeful that the 09 will finally have a chance to come together in person at Newport to celebrate after not being able to do so in 2020 due to Covid-19.
To the 9 courageous women who took a leap of faith on September 23, 1970....congratulations. I'm so proud to be one of the Original 9 who changed the course of tennis and women's tennis in establishing the first professional women's Tour known as the Virginia Slims Circuit. Today we celebrate our success and look forward to receiving the ultimate acknowledgment of how important we were to history’s past present and future. We've come a long way baby and still going!
“Without your gutsy actions, vision, and determination for a better future…we wouldn’t be here today. I first wrote myself a (pretend!) US Open check when I was 15. Every year, I’d look at the prize money and understand the sacrifice that went into ensuring it was equal to the men’s. It gave me that much more drive to work towards my dream.” Read more about how the original 9 have impacted the salaries of women’s tennis.
Listen to Rosie
Rosie was recently interviewed on the TennisPAL Chronicles podcast sharing her story of growing up in Northern California learning tennis at Golden Gate Park, becoming No#1 in California, meeting Billy Jean King, and of course her important role in the Original 9.
Courage didn’t end with the Original 9! It continues on in so many ways! Today at our foundation we strive to inspire kids to have courage through the vehicle of tennis. We are grateful to be chosen as an official charity of the WTA to carry on the torch of rocking the system to bring change for good.
At Love & Love Tennis Foundation we want to continue the courage of the original 9 by paying forward that quality of character to the hundreds of kids that need inspiration and hope. You can help us by supporting our nonprofit.
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