Celebrating 40 years of The Family Circle Cup - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Celebrating 40 years of The Family Circle Cup

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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Family Circle Cup announces 40Love: A Night of Empowerment Celebrating 40 Years of the Family Circle Cup, a special evening presented by Dove, featuring a reunion of the Original 9, including Billie Jean King and first-ever Family Circle Cup Champion Rosie Casals. Honorary coaches Billie Jean King and Virginia Wade will lead a star-studded World TeamTennis-style exhibition with former Family Circle Cup champions Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Martina Hingis and Rennae Stubbs, along with tennis legend Jimmy Connors and American standout Aaron Krickstein.

40Love: A Night of Empowerment Celebrating 40 Years of the Family Circle Cup presented by Dove begins promptly at 7:00pm on Saturday, April 7th, 2012. Tickets for this event are on-sale now, with seating options available throughout Family Circle Stadium. Pricing begins at $20 in the Grandstand, $35 for Terrace Level, and $65 for Box Seats.

"This commemoration is designed to celebrate our 40th year in professional tennis, and honor the incredible women who made it all possible with their courage and steadfast determination for equality," said Bob Moran, Tournament Director, Family Circle Cup. "The Original 9 served as a catalyst for change in not only women's tennis, but helped shift our country's attitude toward equality as a whole. I truly believe that this is an evening that should be experienced by every generation from daughter to grandmother."

"We are thrilled to partner with Dove on this extraordinary celebration and recognition of these incredible women," says Nancy Weber, EVP/Chief Marketing Officer, Meredith Corporation. "Over the past four decades, The Family Circle Cup has played a critical role in supporting their mission, and we are excited to have the opportunity to mark this historic occasion."

Nikki Haley, Governor, South Carolina, Stacey Allaster, CEO, Women's Tennis Association, and several representatives from Dove will be present to recognize the Family Circle Cup and the Original 9.

In September 1970, the birth of women's professional tennis was launched when nine female tennis players signed $1 contracts with World Tennis publications publisher Gladys Heldman to compete in what would become the Virginia Slims Series. The Original 9, as they were called, included Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Nancy Richey, Kerry Melville, Peaches Bartkowicz, Kristy Pigeon, Judy Dalton, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Julie Heldman. They have previously reunited in 1980 (US Open, NYC), 1986 (Virginia Slims Championships, NYC), and 1989 (Slims of Houston, TX).

Additional 40Love honorees will include Fern Lee "Peachy" Kellmeyer, the first employee and director of the WTA in 1973, a direct contributor to the creation of the Title IX amendment, and International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee. Kellmeyer currently serves as WTA Operations Executive Consultant. She is also a member of the ITF Fed Cup Committee and oversees the WTA's alumni program to ensure that past players and tournament directors remain engaged with the WTA that they helped build. During Kellmeyer's tenure, prize money on the WTA has increased from $309,000 in 1973 to more than $90,000,000 in 2012, and the number of WTA events has increased from 23 domestic tournaments to 53 events in 33 different countries.

"The WTA has been extremely fortunate to have the Family Circle Cup as its partner for 40 years and I congratulate them on running one of our most prestigious events," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA. "We are excited to celebrate Family Circle Cup's landmark anniversary along with the reunion of our Original 9 trailblazers. These amazing champions helped shape women's professional tennis into the number one professional sport for women and it is wonderful to bring them all back together to celebrate the historic achievements of the past 40 years at the Family Circle Cup."

"Women's tennis is about more than serving up exciting match play," said Rob Candelino, Vice President, Brand Building, for Unilever Skincare. "Dove® believes that when girls see positive female role models in action at the Family Circle Cup, it helps expand their definition of beauty and builds their self-esteem to better equip them to become future leaders. Our brand and the Family Circle Cup have a shared commitment to helping women and girls reach their full potential, on and off the court."

About The Family Circle Cup

The Family Circle Tennis Center, home of the Family Circle Cup and World TeamTennis Finals Weekend, is a public facility owned by the City of Charleston and operated by Meredith Corporation that also hosts a variety of additional events including concerts, festivals, tennis tournaments and other activities throughout the year. The Tennis Center features a 10,200 seat stadium, Grand Lawn, 17 tennis courts lighted for night play, Pro Shop, and a full service event management staff capable of handling all aspects of an event including ticketing, operations, sales, marketing, public relations, and food & beverage. Charleston, South Carolina was named was named the "No. 1 tourist destination in America" in the 2011 Condé Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Awards, and Charleston was also voted the "Best Tennis Town in America" in a 2010 USTA contest.

The Family Circle Cup is the largest women's only tennis tournament in the world, and Family Circle is the longest running title sponsor of a sporting event in the United States, as well as in all of professional tennis, world-wide. With over 21 million readers, Family Circle is one of the most widely read monthly magazines in America and is one of 14 leading subscription magazines owned by Meredith Corporation, which speaks to 80 million women nationwide. The Family Circle Cup receives four days of live broadcast domestically on ESPN2, and is viewed internationally in over 25 countries, featuring over 200 hours of live and delayed global broadcast time, reaching 8.54 million viewers worldwide.

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