Do What You Love; Rewards Follow
It was my honor and privilege to represent the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Intermountain at the inaugural Champions of Equality event, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of equal prize money at the US Open. Though it was a huge surprise, it’s very validating to be acknowledged for years of my charitable work with beginners and restarters, my tennis fundraisers, and for my volunteering on the Parks & Recreation, Rules, and Diversity & Inclusion Committees. I accepted the invitation to attend as an Honoree immediately.
Boy, I’m so glad I did! The experience exceeded my expectations. I knew the event would be impactful with hearing Billie Jean King and Venus Williams talk about equality–the challenges, the successes, and the work still to do. However, I could not foresee how special and historical it all would be.
I could not foresee how special and historical it all would be.
Let me back up to the beginning. The event kicked off with a meet and greet in the Player Garden behind Arthur Ashe stadium. The ambiance was created with beautiful patio furniture, high tops, bars, and delicious hors d’oeuvres. Oh, and the DJ who looked like a super model played high energy music. I met other USTA section nominees and women champions of equality in the corporate world. Another perk was having the opportunity to see players come and go plus reconnecting with WTA staff, coaches, and commentators I knew from my days working with the WTA and the Bryan Brothers.
We USTA section representatives received beautiful glass awards honoring our passion for tennis and dedication to equality plus tickets to the women’s semifinals matches after the event. Bonus…a picture with Billie Jean.
The Equality Discussion
After the meet and greet, we all gathered in the Player Interview Room where broadcast journalist Christiane Amanpour lead the equality discussion with trailblazing Grand Slam Champion Billie Jean, 7-time Grand Slam Singles Champion Venus Williams, and Telva McGruder, General Motors’ Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. Every time I hear Billie Jean speak, I am amazed at her drive and passion for what is right. Even though she faced tremendous adversity, Billie Jean continued the fight for equality. Her clear and vivid way of communicating is moving and empowering.
Venus Williams’ fight for equality is a continuation, albeit a modernization, of Billie Jeans’ efforts. Most tennis fans don’t know that Venus was instrumental in the WTA partnering with supplement sponsors to enhance the health and wellbeing of players. And I don’t think enough has been said about what Venus has done to bring about equal prize money at Wimbledon and the French Open.
It was a pleasure to see Billie Jean and Venus again, as I met Billie Jean in Indian Wells and Venus when I worked with the Bryan Bros. Telva McGruder shared very interesting information about GM’s decades’ long efforts in leveling the equal pay playing field. She also talked about corporations in general doing more to equalize humanity.
“Pressure is a privilege.”
–Billie Jean King
Do What You Love
The inaugural Champions of Equality event was amazing—from the meet and greet, photo op, award, to the equality discussion. Billie Jean, Venus, and Telva are champions in tennis and in life, and have inspired me to do more work to grow tennis and to do more to level the playing field in humanity. Thank you USTA Intermountain and the Nevada District for rewarding my love of tennis and my efforts to grow the game. There is more to come.
Do what you love.
The rewards will follow.