Gainbridge partnership is a 'huge step' towards parity in tennis03/10/2022 00:00
The unveiling of Gainbridge as the title partner of the Billie Jean King Cup is a huge step towards levelling the playing field in tennis, writes ITF President David Haggerty
Last week's announcement that Gainbridge Insurance Agency is the new title partner of the Billie Jean King Cup demonstrates 'a significant' step forward in the ITF's ongoing commitment to levelling the playing field in tennis, writes ITF President David Haggerty
Next year will mark 50 years since Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs competed in the now legendary Battle of the Sexes tennis match.
At the time, Billie Jean said that losing to Riggs would set the women’s game back 50 years. Having won, she is instead credited with igniting a boom in women’s participation and bringing tennis to a huge global audience thanks to the incredible TV viewing figures for that one match.
Change has been slow since then. Much slower than I would like. In fact, it feels like it has been baby steps to gender equality given equal prize money was only brought in at all four of tennis’ Grand Slam events when Wimbledon started paying men and women the same in 2007.
Last week, however, the announcement that Gainbridge Insurance Agency became the new title sponsor of the Billie Jean King Cup demonstrates we have taken a significant stride in our ongoing commitment to levelling the playing field in tennis.
Gainbridge are the perfect partner to truly deliver on the ITF’s pledge to drive sustainable growth and value for women’s tennis, all the while helping to achieve our ambition of closing the gender pay gap at all levels of the competition.
We are excited to announce that in 2022, women and men will be paid equivalent prize money for competing at the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals. That is huge news.
Gainbridge and the ITF share common values of equal opportunity and equal pay. Gainbridge has a programme called Parity, which aligns perfectly with our ITF Advantage All strategy.
Billie Jean has done so much as an individual to pave the way for subsequent generations of women tennis players that it seems only fitting that since we made the decision to name the women’s World Cup of Tennis after her, we have tripled the total compensation for the women’s Finals.
She continues to be personally and actively involved in driving the growth of the Billie Jean King Cup – which will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year – as both its global ambassador and its namesake.
The Billie Jean King Cup has an impressive number of names on its partner list - as well as Gainbridge, we have Microsoft, Tory Burch and Magellan. All companies who believe in our product and the ITF’s overall goal.
But it’s not all about the Finals. Over 100 nations competed in 2022 across six continents. The best 12 nations will battle it out in Glasgow next month for the chance to lift the coveted trophy and inspire the next generation of girls to pick up a tennis racket.
I’m fortunate that my position as President of the ITF has opened doors for me to help make a difference. One such area is as a Champion for the UN’s HeForShe programme, which is an international platform that invites and engages men and boys to complement the work of the women’s movement and create an equal world for all.
I recently attended the 2022 HeForShe Summit, where global leaders convened to focus on male action and allyship to advance gender equality.
In addition, I have been appointed to the IOC Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commission. In my role within tennis, my goal is to ensure more countries play the sport, then more young girls will have the opportunity to follow their dream of one day helping their country win the Billie Jean King Cup. Sponsorship announcements like the one last week with Gainbridge help to pave the way for that to happen and that is a legacy of which I am truly proud.