Billie Jean King

Council Member

Sports Icon and Humanitarian

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King, member of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, is a sports icon and humanitarian who won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles, and mixed doubles tennis titles, including a record 20 championships at Wimbledon. 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 in 1973, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. This match is remembered for its effect on society and its contribution to the women's movement. In 2008, she authored Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I've Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes to commemorate the 35th anniversary of her historic 1973 match against Bobby Riggs.

She was one of nine players who broke away from the tennis establishment and accepted $1 contracts from tennis promoter Gladys Heldman in 1970 in Houston. The revolt led to the birth of women's professional tennis and the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and Women's Tennis Association.

King founded the Women's Tennis Association (1973), which marks its 40th anniversary in 2013, the Women's Sports Foundation (1974), Women's Sports Magazine (1974), and co-founded GreenSlam, an environmental initiative for the sports industry (2007). She also co-founded World TeamTennis (1974), the groundbreaking co-ed professional tennis league, and founded the World TeamTennis Recreational League, one of the most popular recreational tennis formats in the U.S.

Billie Jean KingShe was honored on August 28, 2006, when the National Tennis Center, home of the U. S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in honor of King's contributions to tennis, sports, and society both on and off the court. She continues to be involved with the USTA. On August 9, 2009, King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, making her the first female athlete to receive this honor. LIFE Magazine also named her "one of the most important Americans of the 20th century."

Short Bio
  • Twenty time Wimbledon tennis champion.
  • Founder and first president of the Women's Tennis Association.
  • Board of Trustees member for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Fun Facts

  • icon of television setI've appeared on Law and Order and Ugly Betty.
  • icon of a playground slideI used to work as a playground instructor.
  • icon of a pianoMy good friend Elton John penned his song, Philadelphia Freedom, for me.
  • icon of a tennis racket and ballI love to play tennis in Central Park.
Image of Billie Jean King speaking at an event

Billie Jean King