Today, Tennis is a major international sport. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. Numerous tournaments at amateur and professional levels are held all over the world. Children aspire to become professional tennis players. Parents encourage their children to take up this glamorous sport. It is one of the few sports in which the earning potential of male and female athletes is almost equal. But things weren't always like that. There was a vast difference in men's tennis and women's tennis. There were fewer tournaments for women. The prize money for women players was very less as compared to male players. There were said and unsaid constraints set on apparel and manner of play too.
Throughout history, all across the world, there have been many brave women from different backgrounds and cultures who fought for gender parity and women's rights in many aspects of life. Similarly, few courageous individuals have transformed women's Tennis. These women changed the face of the game through their playing style, behaviour, deeds off-court and character. Let us look at five players who have shaped Tennis over time -
#1 Li Na - A trailblazer who popularized Tennis in China
One hundred and sixteen million people in China watched the women's finals of the French Open in 2011. Li Na from China won the match, becoming the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam. She later went on to win the 2014 Australian Open by defeating Slovakian Dominika Cibulková. She changed the face of Tennis in China and Asia. After her win, the sport gained momentum in China. There are many Chinese among the top 1000 ranked players now, unlike earlier. She also fought the strict system in China to get a better deal for herself, which paved the way for other Chinese players. She managed to reach an agreement for players like her wherein they could hire their coaches, set their schedules, and keep a far higher percentage of their earnings. People look up to her as a role model for her pursuit of independence.