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.

King, who won an astounding 39 Grand Slam 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 from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman 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.

In 1973, King produced one of the greatest moments in sports history when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.”

The Riggs-King match took place at the Houston Astrodome, and garnered huge publicity. In front of more than 30,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience estimated at 50 million people in 37 countries, 29-year-old King beat the 55-year-old Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. It still remains one of the most viewed sports events of all time, and the story is now a major motion picture starring Emma Stone as Billie, and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs.

In 1974, King co-founded World TeamTennis, a mixed-gender professional tennis league, and remained heavily involved with the league for over 40 years, selling her majority ownership stake in 2017.

She currently owns the Philadelphia Freedoms and heads up the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. She also serves on the executive boards of the Women's Sports Foundation (which she founded) and Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF).

Named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King was honored on August 28, 2006, when the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

She is also the author of Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes to commemorate the 35th anniversary of that historic match.

 

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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
In Conversation with Billie Jean King | University of San Francisco [1:10:16] - 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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Biography

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.

King, who won an astounding 39 Grand Slam 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 from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman 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.

In 1973, King produced one of the greatest moments in sports history when she defeated Bobby Riggs in the famous match dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes.”

The Riggs-King match took place at the Houston Astrodome, and garnered huge publicity. In front of more than 30,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience estimated at 50 million people in 37 countries, 29-year-old King beat the 55-year-old Riggs 6–4, 6–3, 6–3. It still remains one of the most viewed sports events of all time, and the story is now a major motion picture starring Emma Stone as Billie, and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs.

In 1974, King co-founded World TeamTennis, a mixed-gender professional tennis league, and remained heavily involved with the league for over 40 years, selling her majority ownership stake in 2017.

She currently owns the Philadelphia Freedoms and heads up the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative. She also serves on the executive boards of the Women's Sports Foundation (which she founded) and Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF).

Named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, King was honored on August 28, 2006, when the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

She is also the author of Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes to commemorate the 35th anniversary of that historic match.