Billie Jean King

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  • Sports Icon and Equality Pioneer
  • 39 Grand Slam Tennis Champion
  • Founder, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and Women's Sports Foundation



As one of the 20th century's most respected and influential people, Billie Jean King has long been a champion for social justice and equality. She has created new inroads for both genders in and out of sports during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today, primarily through the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, which is dedicated to promoting equality and inclusion in the workplace.

King, who won an astounding 39 Grand Slam tennis titles during her career, blazed trails for women everywhere in 1970 when she became one of nine players to break away from the tennis establishment and accept a one dollar contract to compete in the newly created Virginia Slims Series. The revolt led to the birth of women's pro tennis and the formation of the Women's Tennis Association. King went on to star in one of the greatest moments in sports history when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” which was immortalized on the silver screen in the film of the same name. Her memoir, ALL IN: An Autobiography, published by Knopf in August 2021, is garnering rave reviews.

Named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King moves audiences with empowering lessons on leadership, inclusivity, equality, and finding your purpose.

 

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Rave Reviews About Billie Jean King
The depth of what [Billie Jean King] accomplished as a player and activist makes choosing one singular milestone impossible. Cumulatively, there have been few who have had a greater impact on their sport than King... There are two intertwined facets of King’s career – what she accomplished on the court as the third winningest female player in major tournament history and how her single-minded determination provided equal footing for not just women’s tennis players, but all women’s professional athletes....

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Billie Jean King
  • Salesforce
  • Northwestern University
  • INBOUND
  • University of San Francisco
  • TED
News Interview - Billie Jean King: I Hope My Story Will Make A Difference In Someone's Life | Morning Joe [6:41] - Get Sharable Link
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Pressure Is A Privilege and Other Life Lessons

King draws on her rich history in and out of sports to share a lifetime of breaking barriers and opening doors all in an effort to secure equal rights for all. ...

King draws on her rich history in and out of sports to share a lifetime of breaking barriers and opening doors all in an effort to secure equal rights for all.

A Conversation with Billie Jean King

The living legend shares a lifetime of stories about equality, inclusion and the importance of connecting with others. ...

The living legend shares a lifetime of stories about equality, inclusion and the importance of connecting with others.

Lift, Learn, Lead

With the millennial generation expected to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, King looks at the unique opportunity in the workplace for generations past, present and future to work together in an inclusive environment. ...

With the millennial generation expected to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, King looks at the unique opportunity in the workplace for generations past, present and future to work together in an inclusive environment.

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<p>Pioneering Athlete and Activist Billie Jean King Writes a Memoir Detailing Her Life and Work</p>

Pioneering Athlete and Activist Billie Jean King Writes a Memoir Detailing Her Life and Work

Billie Jean King's autobiography ALL IN: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY marks the first time King has told her story in full, detailing how her private journey to be what she calls her “authentic self” played out alongside her groundbreaking activism and career in tennis—that included seven years as the top-ranked woman in the world, a record twenty Wimbledon championships, thirty-nine Grand Slam titles, and her watershed victory over Bobby Riggs in the famous “Battle of the Sexes.” King writes about her unwavering ongoing commitment to equality and social justice. As King notes, many of the issues she and others fought for decades ago are being revisited today.

Early on, what was most apparent to me was that the world I wanted didn’t exist yet,” King writes. “It would be up to my generation to create it.” Beginning with her working-class childhood in Long Beach, California, and moving across the country and around the globe, King describes her love of the sport, her commitment to excellence, and her determination to be the No. 1 player in the world. She details her fight for equality in tennis, leading to the establishment of the first all-women’s pro tour in 1971, persuading the US Open to become in 1973 the first major tournament to award equal prize money to men and women. King also founded the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and cofounded World TeamTennis. King faced endless challenges along the way—entrenched sexism, an eating disorder, near financial ruin after being outed—and she shares how she became comfortable in her own skin at the age of fifty-one. She covers her participation in the rising women's movement, Title IX, the assassinations and antiwar protests of the 1960s, the civil rights movement, and, also, the LGBTQ+ rights movement and the impact these had on her life and her advocacy work. King’s life today remains one of service, and in ALL IN she draws on her frontline experiences to offer contemporized insights on leadership, business, activism, sports, politics, marriage equality, parenting, sexuality, and love.

Billie Jean King is the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she was named one of Life magazine’s “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century.” She is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, the Women's Tennis Association, and the Women's Sports Foundation, and she cofounded World TeamTennis. 

Watch her discuss the book on MSNBC > >

Read a review of the book on BookTrib > >

<p><strong>Tennis Legend and Social Activist Billie Jean King is named to Sports Illustrated Unrelenting List</strong></p>

Tennis Legend and Social Activist Billie Jean King is named to Sports Illustrated Unrelenting List

Sports Illustrated has recognized BILLIE JEAN KING on their Unrelenting List of the most powerful, most influential and most outstanding women in sports right now—the game-changers who are speaking out, setting the bar and making a difference. Here is what they said of King:

"A true icon and one of the most renowned tennis players in history, King has dedicated her life to fighting for change and equality, using her on-court skills to garner respect and recognition for female athletes and her activism to help pass Title IX and secure opportunities for the women in sports today. King is the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the first woman to have a namesake major sporting venue, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York; and, most recently, the International Tennis Federation reamed its annual team competition the “Billie Jean King Cup” in her honor."

In the years since and at age 76, King has not ceased her social change efforts but intensified them, continuing to fight for equal pay in sports, leading the work of the Women's Sports Foundation and serving as a mentor and role model for the next generation of women determined to create change.

 

<p><span>Virtual Programming: Billie Jean King on leadership and resiliency during challenging times </span></p>

Virtual Programming: Billie Jean King on leadership and resiliency during challenging times 

As one of the 20th century's most respected and influential people, Billie Jean King is a leader in and beyond the world of sports, who provides empowering and actionable lessons on leadership, equality, and finding your purpose, even in the most challenging of circumstances. Amid the coronavirus, King has been sought-out for multiple, creative virtual programs from major company conferences to non-profit galas, providing bold inspiration and keen insight into resiliency, finding creative outlets as we all adjust to social distancing, and the kind of leadership the world needs most right now. She's engaged in a virtual fireside chat at the Salesforce World Tour event on responsible and inclusive leadership, which was livestreamed to over 7,000 people; hosted a special live event dubbed #WeKeepPlaying in an effort to engage and inspire young athletes during the stress and isolation of the pandemic; led History at Home lesson for the History Channel; and much more. Named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King moves virtual audiences with her candor and passion. 

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Biography

Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. She has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for all genders in sports and beyond during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today.

King was named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life Magazine and, in 2009, in recognition of her work as a social justice pioneer and her accomplishments in sports, President Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2020, King became the first woman to have an annual global team sports event named in her honor when Fed Cup, the women’s world cup of tennis, was rebranded as the Billie Jean King Cup. Her memoir, ALL IN: An Autobiography, published by Knopf in August 2021, is garnering rave reviews.

In 2014, King, and her partner Ilana Kloss, launched the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to address equality and inclusion issues in the workplace. In 2018, King and Kloss were named to the ownership group of the Los Angeles Dodgers and in 2019 King’s deep Southern California roots were recognized with the opening of the Billie Jean King Main Library in her hometown of Long Beach, California. In 2020 King was honored with the release of the Billie Jean King Barbie doll, part of Mattel’s Inspiring Women Series, and joined the ownership groups of the Los Angeles Sparks and Angel City FC.

King grew up playing tennis in the California public parks and won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career. She helped form the Virginia Slims Series and founded the Women’s Tennis Association. She defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history – the Battle of the Sexes on Sept. 20, 1973.

In 2017, Fox Searchlight released the critically acclaimed film, Battle of the Sexes, starring Academy Award® winner Emma Stone as King and Academy Award® nominee Steve Carrell as Bobby Riggs, which depicts both players’ battles on and off the court as well as the cultural and social impact of the groundbreaking match.

In 1974 King co-founded World TeamTennis, the revolutionary professional team tennis league. That same year she also founded the Women’s Sports Foundation. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments on and off the court. In 2014 President Obama named King to the Presidential Delegation for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In 2018 King received a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards. In 2019 ESPN established the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award, which is presented annually at the network’s Sports Humanitarian Awards ceremony. King is an inaugural member of the advisory council to the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, serves on the board of the Women’s Sports Foundation, is an adidas Global Ambassador, is a past member of the board of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and a past member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.