For more than 20 years, King dominated the world of tennis. As a player, she won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 titles at Wimbledon. In 1973, King defeated Bobby Riggs in the most talked-about tennis match in history. The “Battle of the Sexes” was a turning point for women in athletics, proving that skill is not dependent upon gender.
King’s efforts turned women’s tennis into a major professional sport. Outraged at the disparity between men’s and women’s prizes at major tournaments, King spearheaded the drive for equal prize money and equal treatment of women. She helped establish the Virginia Slims Tour, founded the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation, and co-founded World TeamTennis.
As a female athlete, King achieved a number of “firsts”. In 1971, she became the first female athlete in any sport to earn more than $100,000 in a single season, and in 1974, she became the first woman to coach a co-ed team in professional sports, the Philadelphia Freedoms. In 1984, King became the first woman commissioner in professional sports history.
In honor of her contributions to tennis, sports and society, the National Tennis Center was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2006. In the same year, the Sports Museum of America and the Women’s Sports Foundation announced the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center. Continue reading from National Women's Hall of Fame