12 times Grand Slam singles champion Billie Jean King, one of the pioneering founding members of the WTA Tour, says that the merger of the ATP & WTA Tours was long overdue and that the creation of the WTA Tour was always Plan B for her.
King's comments came on the back of Roger Federer's tweets on Wednesday that the ATP & WTA Tours should be merged, which found the backing of several other players including Rafael Nadal. According to the Straits Times, King said she always wanted one professional body for men's and women's tennis from the start of the Open Era.
"I heard about the men starting an association and I went to a lot of the guys and I said, 'Why don't we have one association, so we can all be together and we would be such a phenomena." When the men launched their own ATP Tour in 1972, King and other leading women of the time founded the WTA Tour in 1973.
Speaking of Federer's comments, King says it shows a change in the attitude of men today. "It just shows you culturally and generationally how the younger men today, they really do believe their daughters and sons should have equal opportunities.
I've always felt we're stronger together, that's my whole philosophy. When you get to know people, then you care more. In my day, the men culturally just could not wrap their heads around us ever making a dime."
King, who has been an activist for equal rights for many years now, says that having one tour structure for the men and women would make the game easier to follow for the fans. "You know how they have these 1000s, 500 and 250s and then the women's have premiers - we need to throw all that out, we need to throw everything out and start over and have the same systems.
Everything's about the fans - we've got to make it more simple for them to understand what the heck we're doing."
I agree, and have been saying so since the early 1970s. One voice, women and men together, has long been my vision for tennis.
The WTA on its own was always Plan B.
I’m glad we are on the same page.
Let’s make it happen.