As we prepare for the start of the Esurance Tennis Classic on October 2nd and 3rd, 2010 we take a short moment to speak with Rosie Casal, was one of the Virginia Slims Original Nine players who started the women's professional tennis circuit, and one of the founders of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). In recognition of her on-court and off-court accomplishments, Rosie was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996.
Tennis World USA: What made you decide to align yourself with this tournament “The Esurance Classic” and what drives you to continue each and every year?
Rosie Casal: The Harbor Point Tennis Club is my club and when the owner Bob Kaliski asked me to help him organize a tennis event with men and women legend pros to help raise money for the various Bay Area charities and the Harbor Point Charitable Foundation, there was no question in my mind that I wanted to do this.
Tennis World USA: As a pioneer in tennis along with Billie Jean King, how do you feel with the direction of tennis in regards to multicultural participation?
Rosie Casal: Tennis has always been international so it’s only understandable that the game is world-wide and prospering. The Women’s Tennis Association just opened their new offices in Bejing two years ago since China now is a prominent player on the women’s tour. I think this is great but I always like to see more Americans at the top then there are now.
Tennis World USA: As a woman in tennis do you feel that in some ways there have been positive and significant strides in how women’s tennis is viewed against the men’s tennis?
Rosie Casal: I think the 21st Century brings a lot of acceptance and credibility to women especially in tennis. Much of it is what our generation did in the 70’s to establish the women’s tour and to establish the Women’s Tennis Association to represent the women as one voice.
Tennis World USA: How do you feel about equally making the rules of tennis in tournaments equal as men; such as making the matches 3 out of 5 sets instead of 2 out of 3? Especially since some of the women players are just as physically fit to manage a long match as men?
Rosie Casal: I’m all for the women playing 3/5 sets because I feel they can and are fit enough. But more is not often better. Sometimes a long men’s 5 set match is not as exciting as a good women’s 2/3 sets…There are pros and cons….but I know some of the men feel that they spend more time on the court than the women and women are getting equal prize money….How did we do that?!!