Gladys Heldman and the Original Nine: The Visionaries Who Pioneered the Women's Professional Tennis Circuit
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Health and Kinesiology
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Committee Member 3
The purpose of this study was to examine the events that led up to the formation of the women’s professional tennis circuit in the United States in 1970, and the political battles of the subsequent three years. Under the guidance of Gladys M. Heldman, the founder, editor and publisher of World Tennis magazine – the sport’s most influential publication at the time – nine women tennis players decided to leave the jurisdiction of the United States Lawn Tennis Association and form their own circuit. The women broke away from the USLTA in a dispute over the prize money distribution at tournaments, which was heavily weighted towards men players. In order to understand the climate in which these women decided to break away from the USLTA in 1970 form their own tour, this study gives a detailed history of the politics of tennis in the twentieth century, including an examination of how the USLTA controlled amateur tennis players, the practice of “shamateurism,” the growth of professional tennis tours since the late 1920s, and the forty-year battle for open tennis, which allowed amateurs and professionals to play in the same events.
Gobbie, Donn Thomas, "Gladys Heldman and the Original Nine: The Visionaries Who Pioneered the Women's Professional Tennis Circuit" (2015). Open Access Dissertations. 1413.