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Volume 23 No. 28
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Cash Advance: Women's Tennis Pioneers

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Jane "Peaches" Bartkowicz

Age: 71 

Hometown: Hamtramck, Michigan 

Bio: Bartkowicz was a dominant juniors player but her pro career was short; she retired at age 21 a year after the Original 9 tournament in Houston, in part because of her aversion to the promotional work required to help launch the fledgling Virginia Slims Circuit. Bartkowicz helped pioneer the two-handed backhand shot.

 

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Rosie Casals

Age: 71 

Hometown: San Francisco 

Bio: Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996, the self-declared “rebel” won seven majors doubles titles alongside her close friend, King. Casals won 112 pro doubles championships overall, second all-time only to Martina Navratilova, and was an accomplished singles player, too. 

 

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Judy Dalton

Age: 82 

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia 

Bio: Dalton was the oldest member of the Original 9 and a highly successful doubles player. She won doubles titles in all four Grand Slams and even after retirement continued to promote women’s tennis as president of the Australian Fed Cup Foundation.  

 

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Julie Heldman

Age: 74 

Hometown: Berkeley, California 

Bio: Gladys Heldman’s daughter, she was a talented pro player, reaching a No. 5 ranking twice. Heldman was a late addition to the momentous Virginia Slims of Houston tournament after realizing she didn’t want to miss out on contributing to sports history, despite an elbow injury. Heldman later became a lawyer and author, writing a book about her life, her mother and her Original 9 experience.

 

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Billie Jean King

Age: 76 

Hometown: Long Beach, California 

Bio: Famous for her on-court success — she won 39 singles and doubles major titles, including a record 20 Wimbledon titles, and became the first woman athlete to earn $100,000 in a season — and promotion of the sport and social justice cause, King helped found the WTA and World TeamTennis, is an International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and a Presidential Medal of Honor recipient.

 

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Kristy Pigeon

Age: 70 

Hometown: Danville, California 

Bio: Pigeon was one of the younger members of the Original 9 in September 1970, playing professionally part of the year, then attending college the other part. Pigeon was close with Original 9 organizer Gladys Heldman. Pigeon played professionally until 1975, and later started a ranch for therapeutic horseback riding in Idaho.

 

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Kerry Melville Reid

■ Age: 73 

■ Hometown: Mosman, Australia 

■ Bio: Reid won 26 titles, including the 1977 Australian Open singles crown and the 1968 Wimbledon and 1978 Australian Open doubles titles, during a successful pro tennis career in which she was a top-10 regular. Queen Elizabeth II made Reid a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1979.

 

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Nancy Richey

Age: 78 

Hometown: San Angelo, Texas 

Bio: An International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Richey reached No. 2 in the world in 1969 and won 69 singles titles in her two-decade career. She won Australian Open and French Open singles championships and four majors doubles titles, while playing around the same time as her equally talented brother, Cliff.

 

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Valerie Ziegenfuss

Age: 71 

■ Hometown: San Diego 

■ Bio: Ziegenfuss won six titles as a doubles player, as well as a bronze medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City with doubles partner, and fellow Original 9 member, Jane “Peaches’’ Bartkowicz. Ziegenfuss still lives in her hometown of San Diego and has an active career in real estate.