Billie Jean King

Remembering History: Billie Jean King ushers in new era of women’s equality with 1973 ‘The Battle of the Sexes’ victory

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs Arm Wrestling
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Tennis great Billie Jean King made headlines this past week when the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced it would be celebrating 50 years of awarding equal prize money at the U.S. Open with 2023 theme art commemorating King’s efforts on the occasion.

“No individual has done more to secure equality for female athletes than Billie Jean King,” USTA president Brian Hainline said in a statement. “Her impact goes far beyond the tennis court, and there is no better time to celebrate her legacy than on the anniversary of this historic milestone.”

This year’s theme art – designed by 40-year-old illustrator Camila Pinheiro from São Paulo, Brazil – features an eye-catching portrait of a 1973-era King in front of a colorful, graphic New York skyline.

“I want people to look back and see the achievements and value that we have in the present,” Pinheiro said. “I want this art to convey a sense of great excitement for the achievement and justice achieved by this great woman, and for us to continue to value women and recognize each one for their contributions today.”

Reflecting on the equal-pay accomplishment, King recently told USA Today that, “It was a lot of hard work.” That work actually started one year prior, when King was struck by the notion of fighting for equal pay during her winning press conference at the 1972 U.S. Open.

“I won and got $10,000, while the men’s champion, Ilie Nastase, won and got $25,000,” she explained. “This was ridiculous, so I said, ‘I don’t think the women are going to be back next year. We’re not going to be back in 1973 unless we get equal prize money.’ I’m saying this but just hoping and trusting the other players would go along with it at that point.”

King recalls taking matters into her own hands, approaching the challenge “as a businesswoman” and personally encouraging sponsors to commit more prize money. Her efforts succeeded, and at the 1973 U.S. Open, the men’s and women’s champion each received $25,000.

The USTA’s recent announcement notably came on March 14, which is known as “Equal Pay Day” by the National Committee on Pay Equity. The day symbolizes how far into the new year women must work to earn what men earned by Dec. 31 of last year. As On Her Turf continues its celebration of Women’s History Month, we take a closer look at one of the most notable chapters in King’s legendary career – and one that also took place during that pivotal year of 1973: “The Battle of the Sexes.”

RELATED: Remembering History — 1991 U.S. World Cup team signals start of three-decade USWNT dynasty

The now-famous showdown between 55-year-old Bobby Riggs and a 29-year-old King was televised internationally from the Houston Astrodome, where 30,472 fans were in the stands while an estimated 50 million people tuned in in the United States and 90 million watched worldwide. King won in straight sets, but needless to say, the event was no straightforward affair.

“Though the atmosphere surrounding King’s shocking 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Riggs took on all the conflicting tones of a political convention, championship prizefight, rock festival, tent revival, town meeting, Super Bowl and sick joke, what the match finally got down to was a dazzling clinical exhibition of tennis by Billie Jean,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Curry Kirkpatrick in his definitive narrative of the day titled, “There She Is, Ms. America.”

Tennis Player Billie Jean King Being Carried on Palanquin
Billie Jean King is carried to the court for her tennis match with 55-year-old aging tennis star Bobby Riggs. (Getty Images archive)

Riggs, a top player in the 1940s, was ranked year-end No. 1 three times and had won six major championships during his career, including three Wimbledon titles. He retired from professional tennis in 1951 but remained a master promoter of himself and of tennis. Craving a return to the spotlight and calling the women’s game inferior, Riggs claimed that even at his current age of 55 he could still beat any of the top female players.

Riggs first challenged King, who declined, and Margaret Court stepped in. Thirty years old at the time, Court had recently returned to tennis after giving birth to her first child in March 1972 and was in the middle of earning her seventh year-end No. 1 ranking. More than 5,000 fans turned out for the match, which was held May 13, 1973, in Ramona, California. Televised by CBS Sports, Riggs used a mix of drop shots and lobs to keep Court off balance, notching a quick victory (6-2, 6-1) and landing on the cover of both Sports Illustrated and Time.

Riggs then kicked his taunting up a notch, turning his sights on King once again and calling her a “women’s libber leader.” “I’ll play her on clay, grass, wood, cement, marble or roller skates,” Riggs said. “We got to keep this sex thing going. I’m a woman specialist now.”

King accepted this time around, agreeing to a lucrative financial offer to play Riggs on Sept. 20, 1973. At a July press conference announcing the $100,000 winner-take-all match, which also included at least $75,000 each in ancillary money, Riggs said, “I’ll tell you why I’ll win. She’s a woman, and they don’t have the emotional stability.”

King responded by calling him a “creep.” But come match day, she also embraced the spectacle that came with the showdown. She entered the court like Cleopatra, riding on a feather-adorned gold litter carried by toga-wearing members of the Rice University men’s track team. Not to be upstaged, Riggs rode in on a rickshaw surrounded by scantily clad women known as “Bobby’s bosom buddies.” King then presented Riggs with a squealing piglet – a symbol of male chauvinism – and in return received from Riggs a large “Sugar Daddy” lollipop, which she said she’d donate to an orphanage. Riggs played the first three games wearing a yellow jacket with the “Sugar Daddy” logo on the back.

Bobby Riggs Carried onto Tennis Court
Bobby Riggs holding a large “Sugar Daddy” lollipop while being carried to the court for his match against Billie Jean King. (Getty Images archive)

Normally a serve-and-volley player, King made a concerted effort to wear Riggs down with baseline rallies. She won the first set 6-4, recording several winners and securing the final point on a double fault by Riggs. Riggs held the upper hand briefly at the start of the second set, when he broke King’s serve in the first game, but he eventually lost the set 6-3. Visibly tiring, he lost the third set 6-3 as well. When Riggs hit a high backhand volley into the net on match point, King flung her racket into the air in celebration.

“I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn’t win that match,” King said afterward. “It would ruin the women’s [tennis] tour and affect all women’s self-esteem. To beat a 55-year-old guy was no thrill for me. The thrill was exposing a lot of new people to tennis.”

King received her $100,000 check from boxer George Foreman, one of several celebrities on hand at the Astrodome, and subsequently landed multiple endorsement deals including Adidas sneakers, Wilson tennis rackets, Colgate toothpaste and Sunbeam hair curlers. Her income reportedly neared $1 million in 1974.

Billie Jean King gets her check from boxer George Foreman after beating Bobby Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes.” (Photo by Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images Photo Archives via Getty Images)

After the fact, Riggs gave King due credit, saying: “She played within herself all night. She was never extended. The girl was all over me the whole time. I didn’t know Billie Jean was so quick.”

King retired from competitive singles in 1983 with 12 major championships on her resume, including six Wimbledon titles and four U.S. Opens. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. She’s received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award, and in 1990 was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and in 2020 the Federation Cup was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup in her honor.

Yet for all her accolades and achievements, King might still be best known for a single victory.

“I thought maybe we would go away if I didn’t beat Bobby,” she told USA Today. “Title IX had just passed the year before, and I was worried women’s sports would be in trouble if I didn’t win. I knew people would be making bets, husbands and wives, sororities and fraternities. It was that big of a deal and all these years later, people still come up to me to tell me what it meant to them.”

Learn more about the legendary women who blazed athletic trails in this five-part series, “Remembering History,” as On Her Turf celebrates Black Heritage Month and Women’s History Month with features on Alice Coachman, the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team, tennis great Althea Gibson, race car driver Janet Guthrie and the 50th anniversary of Billie Jean King‘s win over Bobby Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes.” 

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: 2023 March Madness — Alissa Pili revives her love of basketball with record season at Utah

2023 wish list: Top women’s sports storylines to follow in the new year


Women’s sports fans have lots to look forward to in 2023: From the return of Brittney Griner to the WNBA court to the start of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to several new GOAT watches (we see you, Mikaela Shiffrin!), the new year is already chock full of storylines we can’t wait to see play out. On Her Turf looks at several stories we’ll be following when the calendar flips into January and beyond.

The return of Brittney Griner

It seemed like the entire sports world at large breathed a collective sigh of relief when WNBA star Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison on Dec. 8 after nearly 10 months of detention. Just eight days later, the eight-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist infused fans with even more glee when she stated her plans to be on court and wearing her familiar No. 42 for the Phoenix Mercury when the league kicks off its 27th season on May 19.

What’s more, we’ll have at least four more opportunities to watch her play in 2023, as the WNBA increased its regular-season schedule to a record-high 40 games per team — up four games from last season. For the Mercury in particular, Griner’s return also means a reunion with teammate and 10-time All-Star Diana Taurasi, who announced in November that she’ll be returning for her 19th season in the league. Taurasi, who’s won three WNBA titles with Phoenix and five Olympic gold medals with Team USA, ended her season early last year after suffering a quadriceps injury in early August. Griner, who’s technically an unrestricted free agent, boasts career averages of 30.9 minutes per game and 17.7 points, and she was particularly dominant in the 2021 postseason where she averaged 21.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and shot 56.2 percent in Phoenix’s run to the WNBA Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Sky.

The Mercury will visit the Los Angeles Sparks for their season opener on May 19 before hosting the Chicago Sky in their home opener on May 21.

USWNT goes for historic three-peat at FIFA Women’s World Cup

The countdown is on to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, July 20-Aug. 20, where the U.S. Women’s National Team will look to defend their 2019 title at the tournament cohosted by Australia and New Zealand. The four-time World Cup champs also have their sights set on a historic three-peat, after taking the title in 2015 and 2019. The U.S. women could become the first team in either the women’s or men’s game to win three successive World Cups.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: 2023 Women’s World Cup storylines to watch as USWNT takes aim at historic three-peat

The current USWNT includes a healthy mix of newcomers and veterans, led by Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn and Megan Rapinoe, winner of both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in 2019. But an infusion of new talent is already capturing attention, led by former Stanford teammates Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma, and 20-year-old Trinity Rodman, who was a Ballon d’Or finalist this year. Smith, a member of the 2022 NWSL championship-winning Portland Thorns, earned league MVP honors, while Girma won both Rookie and Defender of the Year awards last season.

We’re looking forward to seeing more of this new-look USWNT in the new year, including next month in New Zealand, where they’ll play a two-game series (Jan. 17 and 20) against the co-host nation. The U.S. women kick off their title defense Friday, July 21, with their first World Cup Group E match vs. tournament newcomer Vietnam.

G.O.A.T watch 2023: Mikaela Shiffrin, Katie Ledecky chase history

To say the last week of the year was a momentum builder is an understatement for alpine racer Mikaela Shiffrin, who swept three straight World Cup races – two giant slalom, one slalom – in Semmering, Austria, to bring her career total to 80 wins. The number puts her two wins away from the women’s record of 82 wins, held by fellow American Lindsey Vonn, and six wins away from the all-time record of 86 held by Sweden’s Ingemar Stenmark.

The 27-year-old Shiffrin, who’s won six races this season and is on a four-win streak, could tie Vonn’s record as early as next week in Zagreb, Croatia, which will host slalom races on Jan. 4 and 5. The two-time Olympic gold medalist has four previous slalom victories at Zagreb and finished second there in 2020 and 2022.

RELATED: With career records in view, Mikaela Shiffrin knows nothing is promised

Also chasing an American legend for all-time honors is swimming great Katie Ledecky, who heads into 2023 as the AP Female Athlete of the Year, earning the honor for the second time in her career. Ledecky edged out track star Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone in balloting after winning all four of her races at the FINA World Championships in June, setting two world records in the process and becoming the first swimmer to win five consecutive world titles in one individual event (800m freestyle).

She now owns 22 career world championships medals, including 19 gold, which bests the previous U.S. women’s record of 20, held by Natalie Coughlin (eight gold). Ledecky’s 19th career gold at 2022 worlds broke a tie with Ryan Lochte for the second-most in history and puts her just seven back of Michael Phelps (26). She’ll take aim at another all-time record this July at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, where just one in individual world title would tie her with Phelps’ record of 15.

2023 Solheim Cup: Americans head to Spain as underdogs?

The ultimate women’s team golf event heads to an intriguing new venue, Finca Cortesin Golf Club in Andalucia, Spain. The club played host to the men’s Volvo World Match Play Championship three times from 2009-2012 and will serve as the biennial event’s backdrop for its 18th edition. The European squad, winners of the last two matches at Inverness Club in Ohio (2021) and Gleneagles in Scotland (2019), will be captained by Norway’s two-time major winner Suzann Pettersen, who boasts an 18-12-6 record overall in nine Solheim Cup appearances. The 15-time LPGA winner is known for her mic-drop moment at the 2019 matches, where she holed the winning putt for the Europeans after being away from the game on maternity leave for nearly 20 months prior to the event.

RELATED: The biggest questions in Olympic sports for 2023

For the Americans, who have won the cup 10 times in the matches’ history, they’ll look to win the cup for the first time since 2017 and the first time on foreign soil since 2015 in Germany. Stacy Lewis, a four-time U.S. Solheim Cup team member (5-10-1 overall record), will serve as captain of the American squad, which perhaps for the first time could be considered the underdogs. Currently, there are six Americans in the top 30 of the Rolex Rankings compared to seven European players. The calendar date – set for Sept. 18-24 – should give the matches an added boost, too, as they fall one week before the men’s Ryder Cup in Rome.

Can South Carolina repeat as NCAA women’s basketball champions?

The South Carolina women’s basketball team hasn’t missed a beat since winning the 2022 NCAA national championship last April, blazing through six post-season games including a 64-49 win over UConn in the tournament final. And the Gamecocks have kicked off the 2022-23 season with a 12-game win streak, maintaining their hold of the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll for 27 consecutive weeks.

The Gamecocks reached a milestone in the process, with their 27-week streak marking the fifth-longest run of all time. UConn holds the record for the longest streak at 51 weeks, dating from Feb. 18, 2008, to Dec. 10, 2010. Louisiana Tech has the second longest at 36 weeks, and the Huskies also hold the third and fourth spots on the list, with 34- and 30-week runs at No. 1. South. Carolina started last season at No. 1 and hasn’t relinquished the ranking since. With more than eight weeks left in the regular season, the Gamecocks are on track to keep climbing the all-time list.

Whether or not they’ll repeat as national champions remains to be seen, but it would mark the third national title for head coach Dawn Staley, who also was at the helm for South Carolina’s 2017 championship win over Mississippi State. Staley has four starters back this season, including 2022 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Aliyah Boston, Victaria Saxton, Brea Beal and Zia Cooke (only Destanni Henderson graduated). Boston, who’s averaging 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds and is expected to be a frontrunner for various player-of-the-year awards again this season.

WTA celebrates its 50th anniversary 

It was June 21, 1973 – the eve of Wimbledon Championships – when the already nine-time Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King called a players’ meeting at London’s Gloucester Hotel that would change the course of women’s professional tennis. Frustrated by the obvious gender inequity and an establishment that split the talent pool among competing circuits, King spearheaded the players’ efforts to formally join forces and pioneer their own destiny. Since then, what began as a players’ union has morphed into member association between athletes and the more than 50 tournaments on six continents, boasting parity in all Grand Slam prize money since 2007. Heading into 2023, the WTA notes that 32 countries are represented in the Top 100 of the WTA rankings, with more than 900 million fans worldwide expected to take in tour action next year.

To celebrate, the organization has unveiled a season-long campaign that will pay tribute to the game’s legends as well as its current stars — but through a lens focused on the future. Called “WTA 50: Just Starting,” the campaign will highlight not only what can be done to improve the sporting landscape for women around the world, but also how the WTA can “effectively champion equality and inclusivity for all.” Cheers to the next 50 years!

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Justine Wong-Orantes, Kelsey Robinson Cook sign on as League One Volleyball moves toward pro league launch

PWHPA Explainer: Pro league status, Dream Gap Tour schedule, roster selection and more

Players from the U.S. and Canada compete in a "Rivalry Rematch" hosted by the PWHPA
Getty Images

Originally published on October 14, 2022; Last updated October 19, 2022

The 2022-23 Secret Dream Gap Tour, hosted by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), is underway. Competition began the weekend of October 15-16 in Montreal, Quebec, and continues on November 4-6 in Truro, Nova Scotia.

While this year’s competition will look more like a traditional hockey season, the Dream Gap Tour is not the PWHPA’s end goal. With that in mind, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about the PWHPA, including an explainer on how rosters were determined, info on how to livestream games, a schedule of upcoming games, and an update on the organization’s long-term goal of launching a new women’s pro hockey league.

When and where is the PWHPA playing this season?

Results from the October 15-16 stop in Montreal, Quebec (Centre 21.02): 

  • October 15, 1:30 pm ET: Team Scotiabank 2, Team Sonnet 4
  • October 15, 4:15 pm ET: Team Harvey’s 2, Team adidas 4
  • October 16, 1:30 pm ET: Team adidas 0, Team Scotiabank 5
  • October 16, 4:15 pm ET: Team Sonnet 2, Team Harvey’s 3 (SO)

Two additional stops have been announced as of October 19, 2022: 

  • November 4-6: Truro, Nova Scotia (Rath Eastlink Community Centre) — Note: Truro is one hour ahead of eastern time (ET)
    • November 4, 3:30 pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team Harvey’s
    • November 4, 7:00 pm ET: Team adidas vs Team Sonnet
    • November 5, 2:30 pm ET: Team Sonnet vs. Team Harvey’s
    • November 5, 6:00 pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team adidas
    • November 6, 11:00 am ET: Team adidas vs. Team Sonnet
    • November 6, 2:30 pm ET: Team Harvey’s vs. Team Scotiabank
  • November 25-57: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex)
    • November 26, 12:30pm ET: Team Harvey’s vs. Team adidas
    • November 26, 3:30pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs Team Sonnet
    • November 27, 11:30am ET: Team Sonnet vs. Team adidas
    • November 27, 2:30pm ET: Team Scotiabank vs. Team Harvey’s

How can you watch PWHPA games?

Fans worldwide will be able to watch every PWHPA game this season via, the CBC Sports app, CBC Gem and the CBC Sports YouTube channel.

How were PWHPA rosters selected this year?

In a change from previous years, the four competing PWHPA teams — Team adidas, Team Harvey’s, Team Scotiabank and Team Sonnet — are no longer regionally determined.

“The goal from the beginning was really to create parity across the four teams and make it very competitive all season,” said PWHPA Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford.

While the PWHPA has traditionally used a tryout process for its regional sites, Hefford noted the timing of August’s IIHF Women’s World Championship made that complicated. The organization didn’t want to hold tryouts in July, when most players typically aren’t in hockey mode, but waiting until September wasn’t an option given that the organization’s player pool shrunk this year.

“We didn’t think (September) was fair for players who may not make a roster and then, at that point, wouldn’t have a chance to tryout for another team or another league,” said Hefford.

As a result, the PWHPA implemented a new ranking system. A nine-person selection committee — with experience in the NCAA, U Sports, and national governing bodies — began by providing the 150-plus players who registered with a skill rating and experience rating. In addition to the ranking process, players who weren’t with their respective national teams during the summer were invited to a more traditional tryout at the regional sites.

“No player in the PA knows what their ranking is, which I think is really great,” said Kristen Richards, who attended the tryout in Toronto and was ultimately named to Team Harvey’s. “So everybody kind of went into the tryout thinking, we’re gonna do our absolute best and do whatever it takes to make the team.”

Following the tryout, the PWHPA invited the top-100 players — based on their original ranking or their tryout score — to participate in the 2022-23 season.

The process of dividing the players into four 25-player rosters was also complicated, as Kristina Rutherford highlighted in this Sportsnet story, with everything from nationality to sponsorship affiliations playing a role. (Final PWHPA rosters are listed below.)

The new roster format will result in some players playing on the same team together for the first time, including the hypothetical — and thrilling — prospect of Canadian Sarah Nurse and Americans Amanda Kessel and Kendall Coyne Schofield competing on the same line for Team adidas.

“We’re mixing it up a little bit and there’s four star-studded rosters that we’re really excited about,” Coyne Schofield said ahead of the first stop in Montreal, adding that she didn’t yet know who her linemates would be.

Richards, who is based in Toronto, is personally excited to play with two players from Montreal: the legendary Marie-Philip Poulin (the “obvious” choice), as well as Karell Emard.

“We typically butt heads on the ice quite a bit, so it’ll be exciting to have her on my team this time around,” Richards said of Emard. “We always battle about who has the most penalties, too.”

How is the PWHPA organized?

Hefford serves as the PWHPA’s Operations Consultant, while the organization’s strategic decisions are made by its board, which consists of nine current and former players: Jocelyne Lamoureux Davidson, Karell Emard, Alyssa Gagliardi, Brianne Jenner, Hilary Knight, Sarah Nurse, Noora Raty, Kimberly Sass, and Kendall Coyne Schofield.

“I bring suggestions to them, or if our advisory board has suggestions, I’ll bring those to the board. And ultimately, the board decides how they want to proceed,” Hefford explained.

“I think trusting the process and trusting the leadership is a huge part of being a player and being a member of the PWHPA — and understanding that you’re not going to know the ins and outs of every conversation, every phone call,” Richards said of what it’s like for non-board members.

“As players, we’re not used to non-disclosures. … There’s some information that some players will be privy to and there’s going to be information that players aren’t. The best thing about being in the PWHPA is that my job right now is to show up, play hockey, and put the best product on the ice… while I’m trusting that the others are doing their best to build what is going to be the future of women’s hockey.”

While the nine-player PWHPA board makes the big decisions, they aren’t the people doing the groundwork or crunching the numbers on market prospects.

“We’ve spent the last year-and-a-half or so working with the team at Deloitte and other industry experts and developing our own business plan for a women’s professional league,” explained Hefford. “We felt like it was time for us to take control of our own destiny and not wish and hope for anybody else to do that. So it’s been a really empowering process for our players and our board.”

Do players make money playing in the Dream Gap Tour?

PWHPA players receive stipends for competing in the Secret Dream Gap Tour, and there is also the potential to earn prize pool money. While Hefford said that players will be compensated more this season than in the past, she noted that player contracts are still being finalized and that the organization won’t be announcing figures until that process is completed.

How close is the PWHPA to launching its own hockey league?

To be clear: the Secret Dream Gap Tour is not the PWHPA’s end goal, even if this year looks more like a traditional season.

The PWHPA formed in May 2019 after more than 200 players announced they would be sitting out the 2019-20 season, essentially boycotting the then NWHL (later rebranded as the PHF). While the Dream Gap Tour has served as a stop-gap solution in recent years, most of the organization’s work has been happening behind-the-scenes and away from social media.

In May, the PWHPA signed a letter of intent with Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group, with the goal of creating a new women’s professional hockey league.

It was previously reported that a PWHPA-led league (seperate from the Dream Gap Tour) would launch in January 2023, but that timeline has since shifted, and this season’s Dream Gap Tour will continue through March.

“When I’m up close to it as a player, I wanted it (a new women’s pro league) yesterday. I think we all did,” PWHPA board member Hilary Knight told On Her Turf in August.

At the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Gala on Wednesday night, Billie Jean King confirmed that talks with the PWHPA are ongoing. “We’re doing due diligence and we’ll see what happens,” she said.

But the connection between King and the PWHPA extends beyond their current letter of intent.

In 1970, the “original nine” in tennis — led by King — broke away from the men’s tennis tour to take a stand for equal pay, despite warnings from U.S. tennis officials.

“We were willing to give up our careers,” King remarked ahead of the first Dream Gap Tour stop, noting that she’s seen the same in the PWHPA.

“They’re willing to give up their careers for the future generations so I really admire them. … You have to visualize where you want to go, see the dream, and then you have to build it. And that’s not easy. It’s really not easy.”

This isn’t some theoretical concept for Richards, who knows she might not play in the league that eventually launches.

“For me, I hope the PA gets so good that, at some point, I don’t make this league,” she explained. “Our goal as the PWHPA was always to create something that was much bigger than ourselves.”

What will the future league include that doesn’t currently exist?

Things like a living wage and health coverage are just two bullets on the PWHPA’s laundry list of requirements. Other highlights include team medical staff, player representation, and arena standards.

“It’s very easy for a lot of people to be like, ‘This is the girls complaining. They don’t have enough, they want to make millions of dollars like the NHL.’ No, we don’t. We want basic employee rights, where we have parameters around our work day and we have access to the needs of professional athletes,” PWHPA Advisor Liz Knox told On Her Turf last spring.

“We’ve been saying for years now that it’s not just about the salaries,” echoed Hefford on Friday. “If it were about salaries, our players would be playing in various leagues around the world. It’s really about infrastructure and the resources… and that’s why it’s taking as long as it is — because those things don’t happen overnight.”

The importance of proper infrastructure has only been emphasized in recent weeks. The U.S.-Soccer commissioned Yates report detailed how the lack of basic workplace protections in the NWSL created an environment in which abuse could thrive.

Following the release of the Yates report, On Her Turf reached out to a variety of women’s pro leagues — both established and those in planning mode — about whether they have or plan implement an anti-harassment policy. PWHPA media consultant Ashley McLellan confirmed that player safety policies (including an anti-harassment policy) will be implemented from the beginning of their planned league.

“What’s happened recently with both the Yates report and the Hockey Canada situation, it’s a good reminder that we need to ensure (a strong foundation) and we have an opportunity to do it from day one,” Hefford said.

“I read some of the comments from the soccer players that they just wanted to play, they just wanted to be in a league. And our players feel the same way and that’s what’s made this so challenging is that they just want to play. I get that. As a former player, I feel the same way. But I think we also have a lot of comfort in knowing that we are doing this the right way, we are doing the work that — in our minds — has never been done for women’s professional hockey.”

PWHPA Rosters – 2022-23 Secret Dream Gap Tour

Team adidas

  • Defenders: Emily Curlett, Jessica Digirolamo, Jincy Dunne, Megan Eady, Renata Fast, Halli Krzyzaniak, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson
  • Forwards: Kendall Coyne Schofield, Samantha Donovan, Laura Dostaler, Kelly Gribbons, Jess Jones, Amanda Kessel, Sarah Nurse, Kristin O’Neill, Sarah Potomak, Jill Saulnier, Laura Stacey, Kayla Vespa, Kaitlin Willoughby
  • Goaltenders: Aerin Frankel, Maddie Rooney, Sydney Scobee, Shea Tiley
  • Staff: Matt Leitner (GM/Head Coach)

Team Harvey’s

  • Defenders: Mellissa Channell, Laura Fortino, Jacquie Greco, Savannah Harmon, Kristen Richards, Lauriane Rougeau, Lee Stecklein
  • Forwards: Emily Clark, Rosalie Demers, Jessie Eldridge, Karell Emard, Alexa Gruschow, Rhianna Kurio, Bailey Larson, Marie-Philip Poulin, Alexandra Poznikoff, Jamie Lee Rattray, Hayley Scamurra, Sophia Shaver
  • Goaltenders: Marlène Boissonnault, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Geneviève Lacasse
  • Staff: Danièle Sauvageau (GM/Head Coach)

Team Scotiabank

  • Defenders: Jaime Bourbonnais, Mélanie Desrochers, Katelyn Gosling, Megan Keller, Brigette Lacquette, Makayla Langei, Cat Quirion, Ella Shelton
  • Forwards: Victoria Bach, Alex Carpenter, Mélodie Daoust, Madison Field, Grace Graham, Rebecca Johnston, Nicole Kosta, Hayley Lunny, Kelly Pannek, Tatum Skaggs, Natalie Spooner, Blayre Turnbull
  • Goaltenders: Kristen Campbell, Amanda Makela, Emerance Maschmeyer
  • Staff: Becky McGee (GM), Dean Seymour (Head Coach)

Team Sonnet

  • Defenders: Erin Ambrose, Leah Bohlken, Lilian Braga, Emily Brown, Emma Buckles, Ella Matteucci, Nikki Nightengale, Claire Thompson, Micah Zandee-Hart
  • Forwards: Hannah Brandt, Hanna Bunton, Samantha Cogan, Demi Crossman, Iya Gavrilova, Brianne Jenner, Hilary Knight, Rebecca Leslie, Carolyne Prévost, Abby Roque, Malia Schneider, Natasza Tarnowski
  • Goaltenders: Lindsay Browning, Nicole Hensley, Erica Howe
  • Staff: Rebecca Michael (GM), Laura McIntosh (Head Coach)

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