Billie Jean King

Founder, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative

Named one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” by Life magazine and a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Billie Jean King has long been a pioneer for social justice. She is recognized for spearheading the women’s movement in tennis and for her lifelong pursuit of equality in sports and in life.

King grew up playing tennis in the California public parks and won 39 Grand Slam titles during her career. She led efforts to form the Virginia Slims Tour and founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in 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 on Sept. 20, 1973.

In 1974 King co-founded World Team Tennis (WTT), the revolutionary co-ed professional tennis league and that same year she founded the Women’s Sports Foundation to advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity. In August 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of her accomplishments on and off the court.