Newport, USA , 19 July 2021 | Vivienne Christie

Australians Judy Dalton (nee Tegart) and Kerry Reid (nee Melville) were among prominent tennis figures who were inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport yesterday.

Dalton and Reid were part of the Original 9 inducted in recognition of their fight to achieve gender equality in the sport, which eventually led to the formation of the WTA Tour.

Grand Slam champions Conchita Martinez and Goran Ivanisevic were also inducted in the 2021 ceremony, with South African-born coach Dennis Van Der Meer posthumously inducted as a contributor.

Led by Billie Jean King, other members of the trailblazing Original 9 group included Peaches Bartkowicz, Rosie Casals, Julie Heldman, Kristy Pigeon, Valerie Ziegenfuss and Nancy Richey.

While the pandemic prevented the Melbourne-based Dalton from travelling to the US for the ceremony, the nine-time Grand Slam doubles champion and 1968 Wimbledon runner-up attended virtually.

A proud Dalton has spoken often about the Original 9’s powerful impact. “We basically changed the history of the game,” she commented earlier this year.

“One of the main things that we achieved was recognition for women’s tennis, but also for women’s sport as a whole really. I think that for all of us, we worked so hard and when we took such a chance, we didn’t realise how significant it would be 50 years on.”

Reid, who has lived in America for many years, was one of seven Original 9 at Newport, with Richey also absent from the actual ceremony.

A delighted Reid spoke of the significance of returning to Newport, where she claimed one of 22 singles titles at the inaugural 1971 tournament.

“It’s amazing to think that 50 years ago I was playing here in Newport in the first Virginia Slims tournament,” said Reid, who peaked at world No.7 in the rankings in 1976.

“Looking back then and looking at how far women’s tennis has come in that time, it’s really amazing and I’m really proud to be part of that.”

With the group describing themselves as “sisters, friends and team-mates”, Reid also made special mention of countrywoman Dalton.

“I also want to give a shoutout to Judy Dalton. She was the other Aussie in the Original 9,” Melvile Reid added.

“She lived in Melbourne with me and I used to play a lot with her and she was a little older than me. When we were deciding whether we’d sign up with the Original 9, I was looking at Judy. Well if it’s good enough for Judy, I’m doing it.”

Former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt was also due to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame this year, however his induction was delayed until 2022 due to COVID-related travel restrictions