Gladys Heldman fought to ensure that women’s tennis was taken seriously and that women players competed for the same prize money as men. Heldman was ranked the best player in Texas and second in the Southwest and played at Wimbledon in 1954, though she lost in the first round. In 1953, she created World Tennis Magazine, the first sports journal to cover “the secret sport” of women’s tennis at all. In 1962 she sponsored eighty-five international women players to participate in the US Open. In 1969, she hosted three tournaments for women and in 1970 began a daring experiment to raise the status of women players by having them compete for serious prize money. She convinced women players including Billie Jean King to take a one-dollar contract but had the prize money for the Virginia Slims Circuit funded by Philip Morris and timed the tour for the same week as the Pacific Grove Open, the major men’s event before the US Open. After a three-year legal battle, Heldman secured equal participation and equal prize money for women players in the United States Lawn Tennis Association, in return for her retirement from leadership.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Gladys Heldman." (Viewed on June 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/heldman-gladys>.