Billie Jean King is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. She is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships.
King is also the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and the co-founder of World TeamTennis. She has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for men and women in sports and beyond during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today.
Born in Long Beach, California, she first played tennis at the age of 11 in the public parks of southern California. King won her first of a record 20 Wimbledon titles when she captured the 1961 Wimbledon Ladies’ Doubles Championship with Karen Hantze in 1961. She went on to win 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles during her career.
On September 20, 1973, she empowered women and educated men when she defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history – the Battle of the Sexes. This match is remembered for its effect on society and its contribution to the women’s movement.
King was named one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by Life Magazine and, in 2009, President Obama awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
In 2006, her accomplishments both on and off the court were recognized when the home of the U. S. Open was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2007, she co-founded GreenSlam, an organization dedicated to improving the greening of sports. Also in 2007, King was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, long after her professional tennis career ended. As diabetes was part of her family history, King was reportedly not shocked by her diagnosis. In 2008 King released her first book in more than 20 years. Titled “Pressure is a Privilege,” the book shares a collection of life lessons she has used throughout her life and career.
In 1974 King co-founded World Team Tennis (WTT), the revolutionary professional tennis league. Now known as Mylan World TeamTennis, WTT showcases the best in professional team tennis competing for the King Trophy.
King continues her life mission to help the underserved, most notably through her efforts to provide programming and funding for those infected, affected or at risk of HIV/AIDS through her work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF). A member of the organization’s Board of Trustees, King has helped the organization raise more than $225 million in support or worthy programs in 55 countries around the world.
King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. Since founding the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, Billie Jean has led the organization in its mission to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $50 million in educational and cash grants to advance participation, research and leadership in sports and physical activity for girls and women.
In 2010, King was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition and in 2013 she was named to the board of the Andy Roddick Foundation. In February 2014, King was named, by President Obama, to the Presidential Delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In 2018, she won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
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