US Open features personal essays of trailblazing women on equality


Sarah Thomas, NFL’s first female on-field official | Photo via US Open

NEW YORK – As the United States Tennis Association (USTA) celebrates its 50th anniversary of equal pay prize money at the US Open, it is featuring a series of essays from successful women in a variety of fields, each offering personal perspectives on the importance of equality and individual insights into the challenges they’ve overcome in their respective career journeys.

For example, in an excerpt Sarah Thomas, the National Football League’s (NFL) first female on-field official (pictured above), wrote in her essay:

“I think the first thing that drove home the fact that the playing field is not always equal was when I got kicked out of a church basketball league that I played in with my brothers after college. I was the only woman in the league, and some players on another team said they felt uncomfortable when I posted up against them. I remember looking at one of those guys and saying as fast as basketball is if you get some sort of sexual sensation playing against me, then you don’t need to be playing either. Of course, me just saying “sexual sensation” in a Baptist gymnasium, I knew I was toast.

I was a good player, and I loved to compete. My only transgression was being a woman. I never played basketball again.”

READ MORE: Celebrating 50 years of equal prize money

Twelve essays have so far been published at, with more to come in the future, including essays from Shonda Rhimes, Annika Sorenstam, Jessica Mendoza, Val Ackerman, Carli Lloyd, Vonetta Flowers, and more.

Each of these impactful essays can be found on the dedicated Champions of Equality page, which can be found on the home page.

Current essay contributors include:

  • Billie Jean King, tennis’ trailblazing pioneer
  • Sarah Thomas (pictured above), the NFL’s first woman on-field official
  • Becky Sauerbrunn, USWNT captain
  • Amy Trask, the first woman CEO of an NFL team
  • Esther Vergeer, world No. 1 wheelchair tennis player
  • Angela Ruggiero, Hockey Hall of Famer
  • Gayle King, award-winning journalist
  • Rachel Balkovec, the first woman manager in pro baseball
  • Lindsey Vonn, record-setting U.S. Olympian
  • Norah O’Donnell, CBS Evening News anchor
  • Dawn Staley, gold-medal-winning basketball player & coach
  • Danette Leighton, Women’s Sports Foundation CEO

–With Ricky Rillera/PDM

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