BBC Sport looks back at the pioneers who changed the face of women’s tennis after the BBC hosted a special look at the day it first broadcast women’s tennis to the world
The introduction of televised women’s tennis in 1966, and its historic first televised final between Billie Jean King and Chris Evert in 1967, shook tennis fans to their core.
Despite going out in straight sets, Evert, at 31, was the oldest woman to reach the final. “The law of averages and experience told me to take a deep breath and that if I was already 30 there would be a lot left in the tank,” she said.
“Still, this was still a cause for surprise, shock and a few shakes of the head. Nobody knew there were women who were playing tennis like this.”
When, in that controversial final, television viewers watched Evert lose to 24-year-old King in straight sets it was a watershed moment for both women.
In the build-up to the final, Evert, with a sprained ankle, added: “I’ve always tried to take things in my stride. I’ve never had any ulterior motives, nor will I ever.”
King, at 24 the youngest Wimbledon finalist, said she was shocked by the scenes of euphoria that greeted her victory: “It was such a light. It was a crowd with joy, and they were chanting my name.”
King’s decision to retire, once she won Wimbledon in 1975, aged 25, set the stage for a variety of stories.