Offical Site - Portrait of a Poineer
As one of the 20th century’s most respected women, Billie Jean King has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for women in and out of sports during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today.
King, one of the most illustrious and celebrated tennis players in history, is recognized for spearheading the women's movement in tennis and for her life-long struggle for equality in women's tennis. King empowered women and educated men when she defeated Bobby Riggs in one of the greatest moments in sports history – the Battle of the Sexes in 1973.
In 1990, Life magazine named her one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century". In 1994, she ranked No. 5 on Sports Illustrated's “Top 40 Athletes” list for significantly altering or elevating sports the last four decades.
King, who resides in New York and Chicago, has been heralded as an ardent defender of equal rights for all humankind. She founded the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974 to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity and, in 1987, she established WTT Charities, Inc. to promote health, fitness, education, and social change.
In 1998, King became the first athlete to receive the prestigious Elizabeth Blackwell Award, which is given by Hobart and William Smith College to a woman whose life exemplifies outstanding service to humanity. In February 1999 King won the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for her fight to bring equality to women's sports.
Off the court, King remains active in a number of important causes. She serves as a director on several boards including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
Although her place in tennis has certainly been secured as one of the all-time greats, King remains active in the sport she loves. King, who has coached Olympic and Fed Cup teams, led the U.S. squad to four Olympic medals and the 1976, 1996, 1999 and 2000 Fed Cup titles. In 2003 she received two of the tennis world’s highest honors. King was awarded the prestigious Philippe Chatrier Award, the International Tennis Federation’s highest honor, recognizing individuals for their contribution to tennis and was one of six inaugural inductees into the Court of Champions at the USTA National Tennis Center.
On the court, King left a lasting and indelible mark. She won a record 20 Wimbledon titles with six of them in singles (1966-67-68-72-73-75), won the U.S. Open four times (1967-71-72-74), the French Open in 1972 and the Australian Open in 1968. She was ranked No. 1 in the world five times between 1966 and 1972 and was in the Top 10 a total of 17 years (beginning in 1960.)
King is the only woman to win U.S. Open singles titles on all 4 surfaces on which it has been played (grass, clay, carpet, and hard.) She’s also one of only eight women to hold a singles title in each of the Grand Slam events.
King has had a long and impressive career of firsts. In 1970, King was one of nine players who broke away from the tennis establishment and accepted $1 contracts from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman in Houston. The revolt lead to the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and Women’s Tennis Association. In 1971, she was the first woman athlete to win more than $100,000 in any sport. In 1974 she became the first woman to coach a professional team with men when she served as player/coach for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World TeamTennis.
She is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the National Women's Hall of Fame. She is the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation.
BILLIE JEAN KING – Close Up
1st Pro Win: Wimbledon (1968) – Defeated Judy Tegart
Last Pro Tournament: Australian Open (1983)
Most Memorable Tennis:
Winning 3 WORLD TEAMTENNIS Championships
Winning Wimbledon Mixed Doubles w/ Owen Davidson
Winning her 1st Virginia Slims title in Richmond
Winning her 1st Wimbledon Doubles title (1961 with Karen Hantze)
Co-founder and majority owner, WORLD TEAMTENNIS
Chair of the USTA High Performance Committee
Endorser and Advisor to RainbowVision Properties in Santa Fe and Palm Springs
Board member of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, National AIDS Fund, and Women’s Sports Foundation
Career Highlights: Won 71 singles titles, including 12 Grand Slam singles titles
Won 20 Wimbledon titles
First woman athlete to win more than $100,000 in a single season in any sport
Won battle-of-the-sexes match against Bobby Riggs (Sept. 20, 1973 in Houston)
Highest singles ranking: 1 (5 times between 1966 and 1972)
Best Advice Received:To thine own self be true (from her mother).
Philosophy of Life:The four disciplines in The Road Less Traveled -- Accept Responsibility * Balance * Delayed Gratification * Dedication To Your Own Truth
Hobbies:Tennis, listening to music and reading self-improvement books.
World TeamTennis Charities (1987)
Donnelly Awards (scholarships given to tennis players who have Type I Diabetes) - (1997)
Founding member, Women’s Sports Legends (1995)
World TeamTennis Recreational League (1985)
World TeamTennis Professional League (1981)
Professional World Team Tennis (1974)
Women's Sports Foundation (1974)
Women’s Sports Magazine (1974)
Women's Tennis Association (1973)
Inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame (August 26, 1990)
Named one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century by Life Magazine (Fall, 1990)
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (July 18, 1987)
Recipient of Inaugural WTA Honorary Membership Award (November 1986)
Recipient of the Female Teaching Pro of the Decade (February 1994)
Recipient of the March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement Award (May 1994)
Named one of Sports Illustrated’s Top 40 Athletes for the 40th Year Anniversary (September 1994)
Recipient of the Women’s Sports Foundation “Flo Hyman Award” (February 1997)
Recipient of the “Player Who Makes a Difference” award at Family Circle Magazine Cup (April 1997).
Recipient of Honorary Doctorate from California State University, Los Angeles (June 1997).
Named United States Olympic Committee National Tennis Coach of the Year (September 1997).
National Women’s Law Center Honoree (November 1997).
Received Elizabeth Blackwell Award for Courage by William & Hobart Smith Colleges (May 1998).
Recipient of Honorary Degree from Trinity College (November 1998); Honorary Doctorate from University of Pennsylvania (May 1999); and Honorary Doctorate Degree from University of Massachusetts (May 2000)
Recipient of Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at ESPN’s ESPY Awards (February 1999)
Recipient of Community Role Model Award at Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center “Women’s Night” (March 1999)
Recipient of the NFL Players Assoc. Lifetime Achievement Award (First woman to receive this award) (April 1999)
Inducted into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame (October 1999).
Received one of the six Sports Illustrated’s 20th Century Sports Awards - “Athletes Who Changed the Game” (Dec. 1999).
Recipient of GLAAD’s (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Capitol Award (May 2000)
Recipient of the Radcliffe Medal from Radcliffe College (2002)
Honored by the National Women’s Leadership Summit (2002)
Named Woman of the Year by Women in Sports and Events (2002)
Recipient of the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport World Trophy (2002)
National Association of Collegiate Women Athletic Administrators Award of Honor (2002)
Recipient of the Philippe Chatrier Award , the International Tennis Federation’s highest honor (2003)
Inducted into the Court of Champions at the USTA National Tennis Center (2003)
Recipient of the Alice Award (in honor of Alice Paul) by the Historic National Women’s Party (2004)
Named one of the 100 Most Influential Student Athletes of the Last 100 Years by the NCAA (No.l2) (2006)
Featured in HBO Documentary Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer (2006)
First woman commissioner in professional sports history (TEAMTENNIS, 1984)
First woman to coach a co-ed team in professional sports (Philadelphia Freedoms, WTT, 1974)
First female athlete in any sport to earn more than $100,000 in a single season ($117,000, 1971)
Only woman to win U.S. singles title on four surfaces (grass, clay, carpet, hard courts)
One of six inaugural inductees into the Court of Fame at the USTA National Tennis Center (2003)
Part of Israel Bond’s first delegation of women to travel to Israel.
President of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA): 1973-75,1980-81
Member of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Board of Directors
Contributor, “It’s Elementary” video for Gay and Lesbian education in Chicago public schools
Contributor, “Out of the Past” PBS documentary on the history of the Gay and Lesbian movement
Member of the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame
Member of the American Tennis Association Advisory Board
National Ambassador for AIM, a charity for handicapped children
Member of Board of Directors for: Challenger Center, Elton John AIDS Foundation, S.A.F.E., International Tennis Hall of Fame, National AIDS Fund, Women’s Sports Foundation
Member of Planned Parenthood
Member of United States Professional Tennis Association & United States Professional Tennis Registry
Member of the Chicago Area Women’s Sports Association Advisory Board
Member of the Arete Sports Awards Nomination Committee
Member of Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards Nomination Committee
Member of Sports Advisory Board for the Vic Braden Tennis Neurology Research Institute
USTA Player Development Committee Consultant
Captain of the 1995, 96, 98 – 2003 U.S. Fed Cup Team; 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Women’s Tennis Team
We Have Come A Long Way: The History of Women's Tennis (w/Cynthia Starr, McGraw-Hill, 1988); Billie Jean (with Frank Deford, Viking, 1982); Tennis Love: A Parent's Guide To The Sport (with Greg Hoffman, Macmillan, 1978); Billie Jean (with Kim Chapin, Harper, 1974); Tennis To Win (with Chapin, Harper, 1970)
Contributing Editor for Tennis Magazine
Career singles victories: 695
Has done tennis commentary for HBO, USA, CTV, ABC, CBS and NBC