Sisters Marcie and Maureen Louie became two of the first Chinese American professional women tennis players at a time when women were pushing the sport towards more gender equity. In 1968, Gram Slam tournaments were opened up to both professionals and amateurs, bringing new opportunities for women to play professionally. However, a 12:1 disparity remained in the amount they earned in prize money. To protest and advocate for pay parity, Billie Jean King, the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player at the time, and nine fellow players formed their own Virginia Slims Circuit in 1970. In a famed “Battle of the Sexes” match in 1973, King took on male player Bobby Riggs and won, a victory which had society-wide reverberations for perception and support for gender equity. That same year, the U.S. government passed Title XI, barring gender discrimination and allowing girls access to sports in schools. And almost two decades before, Althea Gibson broke racial barriers in international tennis when she won the 1956 French Open, becoming the first African American to win a Grand Slam title.
During this historic time of more open access for women, all five siblings of the Louie family from San Francisco learned to play tennis. Marci became so skilled, she was able to turn professional in 1972. In 1973, she was ranked the 14th top female tennis player in the world—the only Chinese American. She finished in the top 16 of the Virginia Slims end of year playoff 3 years in a row between 1974-1976 and won the Canadian Open in 1975. She participated in the U.S. Open eight times between 1971 and 1981. Her best U.S. Open finish was in 1976 when she advanced to the 4th round and lost against Mima Jausovec. While known mostly as a singles player, she teamed up with Regina Marsikova to win the 1979 La Costa Classic, beating her sister Maureen and Marita Redondo. Due to a wrist injury, she was forced to retire in 1986. Her sister Maureen, nicknamed “Peanut” by her father and a skilled player in her own right, would turn pro a year after the above photo was taken.