Credited 39 Grand Slam titles in a complete span of her active career
Ranked as the world's #1 woman tennis player in 1966
Entitled as the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1967
Became the first tennis player and the first female athlete to be honoured as the Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine in 1972
Her name was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987
Named amongst the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century" by the Life magazine in 1990
Received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 1999
Honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award as the Sports Women of the Year by SundayTimes in 2007
Received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by the then President Barack Obama for her indomitable efforts for women and the LGBT community
Bestowed with the Fed Cup AwardofExcellence in 2010
Inducted into the Southern California Tennis Hall of Fame in 2011
Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.
Tennis was once assumed as the male dominating sport, and it was firmly believed that female could never be superior to men in this genre. But now the scene has completely altered and do you know because of whom? Yes, we are talking about Queen of tennis- BillieJeanKing. A perfect tennis player, a dedicated coach, a pioneer for equality of sexes and social justice, and above all the legend who scripted the future of WTA. Billie’s career is actually a real-life lesson for every burgeoning player who wants to pursue greatness in spite of all odds of life. Her life depicts a fine message that one should accept the way he/she is and live out life the way he/she wants as this is what she does.
Photo Credits: chicagotribune.com
Born in LongBeach, California; Billie spent her childhood days along with her mother BettyMoffitt, a housewife, father BillMoffitt and younger brother RandyMoffitt. Billie was aware with the world of sports as she belonged to an athletic family, her mother; being good at swimming and her father used to play basketball, baseball and track sports. Initially, Billie was much indulged in softball and used to practice her game with girls 4-5 years older than her. At the age of 11, Billie switched her sport from softball to tennis on her parents' suggestion. To buy her first racket, she saved her 8$. She started practising tennis on public courts where tennis professionals provided free lessons. As a layman, she was often accused of her aggressive playing style on which she had to work a lot. After attending the Long Beach Polytechnic High School, Billie went to the CaliforniaStateUniversity in Los Angeles which she dropped out later, to focus on tennis. While attending California State University, she met Larry King and married with him on September17, 1965.
Champions keep playing until they get it right.
Billie's knack in tennis was much appreciated at local and national communities. In 1961, she clinched the Wimbledon Doubles title along with her partner Karen Hantz and became the world #1 woman tennis player in 1966. Billie turned professional in 1968 and till 1972, became an international tennis icon with her remarkable triumph at the FrenchOpen. With this, she became the fifth woman in tennis history to clinch the singles Grand Slam title amongst all four Grand Slams. The following year, her Battle of the Sexes with the prominent tennis player Bobby Riggs, was a worth to watch clash that set a record of having the largest tennis audience. It all started when BobbyRiggs who was a male chauvinist expressed his belief that men's game is far better than women's and Billie decided to prove him wrong. The result ended in favour of Billie with a phenomenal score of 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. With the great stack of 27majortitles, she succeeded in inducing her name amongst the greatest players of doubles format in the history of tennis. Billie's victory stats of 1967 made her the first female tennis player to win the U.S. as well as British titles in singles, doubles and mixeddoubles. She didn't need to speak about herself as her performance spoke better every time she came to the court.
Photo Credits: biography.com
In a span between 1959 to 1983, Billie proved her grit in tennis and ruled the international tennis courts primarily from 1966 to 1975. Throughout her active career, she bagged 20Wimbledontitles. With her sturdy performances at the court, Billie succeeded in raising a strong message that women athletes are not less than men athletes and fought with all her heart for the equality in the prize money. With the support of sponsors, Billie raised a strong voice for the rights of female players and made every possible effort for it. She is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, a separate governing body for women tennis of which she became the firstPresident in 1974. Besides this, Billie was also involved in coaching. She is the first woman to coach professional male athletes.
No one changes the world who isn't obsessed.
At the peak phase of her playing as well as administrative career, Billie came out as a lesbian and became the first professional female to come out asbisexual but eventually lost all her endorsement contracts. After her divorce with Larry, Billie publically accepted her homosexuality and became an advocate for Gayrights. In 1984, Billie took retirement from competitive tennis and started focussing more on her administrative career. She became the first commissioner in professional sports with her position at WorldTennisTeam (WTT), an organisation founded by a group including Larry that was folded in 1978 but revived by her in 1981. From the mid-1990s, she remained active as a coach for several Olympic and FederationCup teams.
Photo Credits: liberation.fr
Through her active playing career, administrative and coaching days, Billie has always proved her leading skills with all her facts and stats. She never failed to speak for equality, and fair prize wins for men and women in spite of thousands of oppositions that she faced fearlessly. In 1980, her name was inducted into the Women's Sports Hall of Fame and in 1987, to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In August2006, the National Tennis Center of the United States honoured her by renaming the centre's name as the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Post three years, she was bestowed with the PresidentialMedal of Freedom by the then President Barack Obama. With all her roles that she has performed till now, Billie proved her potentials with a subtle message that women can lead to any field of life and ought not to be counted as inferiors.