For more on the WTA's Original 9, read our write-ups on each of tennis' trailblazing women.
For Jane “Peaches” Bartkowicz, passion outweighed everything else when it came to tennis. But inequalities within the sport eventually compelled her to examine considerations beyond her love for the game.
Hailing from a “poor family”, Bartkowicz’s margins for pursuing a playing career were thin after showing tremendous potential as a Wimbledon junior champion. A trendsetter in using two hands on her backhand side, she determined that triumphing hardly made inroads on her ability to survive.
“I can remember the first time I went to Europe to play to get a world ranking. For six tournaments I won, I only received 100 dollars,” she told Tennis Channel. “Because they were run by men, it wasn’t even close as far as the money value. I wasn’t into tennis to make a living at the time, but you know you have to make some expenses to keep going. I loved the sport so it was a no brainer for me.”
The no brainer Bartkowicz refers to? Joining forces with eight other women to form the Original 9 on September 23, 1970, in Houston. Sure, there were nerves among the group, but as the native of Hamtramck, Mich. describes, somebody had to be first, and the timing felt right.
“Any time you try a new endeavor, you’re scared because you don’t know the outcome, but I think there was more excitement than anything else,” Bartkowicz said. “It was our chance to prove that we could get a circuit going of just women. You can’t just say you want equal pay; we are going to prove to you that people like coming to watch the women play.”
Bartkowicz had faith that their actions would make a difference, though admits she didn't think the transformation would lead to where it stands today.
"I never believed it would change it to what it is now."