National Tennis Week: Honoring Trailblazing Female Tennis Players

Jun 27, 2024 | Main Blog | 0 comments

Women in sports have always been a profound entity, but for most of history completely undermined in comparison to men’s sports. Take a look at professional basketball players and teams when compared by the money they make, broadcast coverage of women’s games, and the viewers of the sport they have. For most sports, there has always been a significant distance between the men and women players and leagues. Interestingly enough, the sport that paved the way for female empowerment and equality in sports was tennis.

In 1884, Wimbledon (one of the most prestigious tennis competitions in the world) became the first major sporting competition to allow women to compete. Of course, the 1900 Olympics were a pivotal moment for women in sports. The 1900 Paris Olympics were the first games to include women in the competition in only 5 events: tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrianism, and golf. It was a group of 22 women total, and these female athletes helped pave the way for women in sports today. It is amazing that this summer – 124 years later – the Olympics are returning to Paris where there are 10,500 athletes, half of whom are female.

In 1921, French tennis player Suzanne Lenglen blazed a trail for female empowerment when she ditched the traditional floor-length long-sleeved dress, to play in a shorter pleated skirt with a sleeveless top. She didn’t even wear a corset! I give Lenglen a lot of props for this because she faced much criticism and backlash because of her choice. However, there is no doubt that her decision in 1921 helped change the stereotype and spark the change in women’s clothing and dress. Thank her for that!

Another notable moment in tennis is “The Battle of the Sexes” competition between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Billie Jean King has always been known for her remarkable work in gender equality and parity in tennis. She advocates for justice, and in 1973 she accepted the challenge to play against the former number one male tennis player, Bobby Riggs. Riggs was anti-feminist and believed women were inferior to men. King accepted the challenge as a way to fight against gender inequality in all sports, but especially in tennis. This game was broadcast on television and had 90 million viewers who watched King beat Riggs on the court. King said after the match that “[she] thought it would set us back 50 years if [she] didn’t win that match. It would ruin the women’s [tennis] tour and affect all women’s self-esteem. To beat a 55-year-old guy was no thrill for [her]. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis.” And so, it did. With 90 million people watching, the popularity of tennis increased.

Former President Gerald R. Ford was an avid tennis player and enthusiast, and he demonstrated that tennis is a sport for all ages through playing during his presidency (he was in his sixties)! Because of his love and appreciation for the sport, President Ford declared the fourth full week in June as National Tennis Week. This year National Tennis Week begins on Sunday, June 23 and goes through Saturday, June 29. For the past 48 years, Americans who are aware of this holiday spent time playing tennis with friends and family and attending/watching tennis matches. National Tennis Week is not just for current tennis players to enjoy, but it can be a great time to get out on the court with a friend or fall in love with the sport again! I have enjoyed playing tennis as the weather has been warmer in Michigan these past few weeks. It is a sport that I hadn’t played since high school, where I needed to improve in skill and hated the competitiveness of it. But playing with my loved ones, being outside, with no pressure attached has helped me fall in love with tennis! This beginner-friendly sport is an activity that you can pick up at any age or skill level.

People are drawn to tennis because of the incredible physical, social, mental, and emotional benefits. Tennis is an activity that helps most players to live longer, healthier lives. Tennis players’ cardiovascular health is strengthened due to the variety of pace within a tennis match and the constant movement the game of tennis requires. Entrepreneur Laura Ward Ongley founder and CEO of tennis brand Exeat wrote that a “study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine demonstrated that regular participation in tennis helped improve joint function and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues. Enhanced joint health is a vital component in the quest for a longer and more active life.” For an individual’s mental, emotional, and social health tennis reaps great rewards. Tennis is a social game that helps players build relationships with other people while encouraging social interaction. Tennis is also an immediate mood booster and stress reliever, just like all forms of exercise. The act of playing tennis helps players release endorphins and lowers the impact of anxiety and stress. Whilst all of these factors intertwine and pose importance to an individual’s overall health, tennis is an enjoyable way to lead a healthier life.

So, this June 23 to June 29, I hope you feel motivated to experience the many benefits and joys of tennis and are inspired by the trailblazing female tennis players.

Her Nexx Chapter invites you to join our free Community where women from around the world are connecting with each other’s stories, exploring different experiences, and transforming ideas.

The Future of Connection for Women


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Maddie Bocian

Follow Us!