Billie Jean King is one of the most famous athletes and social icons in American history. She has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for 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.
In 2006 her accomplishments both on and off the court were recognized when the home of the US Open was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2007, she joined Ilana Kloss, Pam Derderian and Nancy Becker to found GreenSlam, an organization dedicated to improving the greening of sports. In 2008 the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center, the first hall of fame dedicated to women's sports, opened at the Sports Museum of America in New York City and Billie Jean released her first book in 20 years. Titled Pressure is a Privilege, the book shares a collection of life lessons Billie Jean has used throughout her life and career.
A member of the Board of Trustees of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Billie Jean has helped the organization raise more than $125 million to support 4,000 programs in 55 countries around the world.
Since founding the Women's Sports Foundation in 1974, Billie Jean has lead the organization in its mission to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. In the past 34 years, 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.
Over the years, Billie Jean has received numerous honors, including being named one of the ‘100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century' by Life Magazine. Her perseverance and courage have taken her to the world stage where she continues to fight for equality in sports and in life through activism and forthright determination.
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