Billie Jean King
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 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. She is active in promoting many of the organization’s programs, including an association with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative.