National Hispanic Heritage Month: Rosie Casals on how Big Tobacco helped the women’s pro tennis tour and women’s lib

Perhaps the most valuable partner for the women who broke away to start their own tour and become a symbol for the women’s liberation movement in the 70s was Philip Morris and its product, Virginia Slims.

Rosie Casals, whose family hails from San Salvador, was one of the Original 9 who broke away from the main tour to start something on their own. For it to work, the women had to prove they were viable.

That’s where Virginia Slims came in. More specifically, its media machine.

Pushing the women’s tour, as well as women’s rights, Virginia Slim used its muscle to make sure the women were in every big magazine and hit every media outlet. They made sure the women were visible, and created stars like Casals and Billie Jean King.

In an earlier interview, Casals spoke of her frustrations about how the growing number of female CEOs are not supporting women’s sports. If women’s sports like soccer, basketball, softball or volleyball had a major corporation behind them, Casals feels those sports could rise up to a level equal to the men.

Big tobacco also helped in building the popularity of another sport in the 90s as NASCAR rose to be on par with the major sports league.

In 2010, Congress passed legislation that banned tobacco from advertising in sports and entertainment.

In the latest video, Casals talks in details about Virginia Slims impact.

Casals spoke to Ginn & Topics as part of the National Hispanic Heritage Month series.

Photo courtesy of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Photo courtesy of the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Below is Casals expressing her frustrations over female CEOs not providing support for women’s sports.

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