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Billie Jean King is one of the 20th Century’s most respected women, both on and off the tennis courts. She is a champion for social change and equality in all arenas, not just in sports. As one of the most celebrated tennis players in history, Ms. King is recognized for her contributions to the women’s movement in tennis, including the struggle for equality for women in sports.
In 1990, Life magazine named Ms. King one of the “100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century” and in 1994 she was ranked 5th on Sports Illustrated’s “Top 40 Athletes” list for significantly altering or elevating sports for the last four decades.
She received the prestigious Elizabeth Blackwell award in 1998, and in 1999 she won the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for her fight to bring equality to women’s sports. In 2006 she was honored when the National Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2008 the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center, the first hall of fame dedicated to women’s sports, opened in New York City.
In her career, Billie Jean King won a record 20 Wimbledon titles, six of which were in singles. She won the U.S. Open four times, the French Open in 1972, and the Australian Open in 1968. As well, she was ranked No. 1 in the world five times between 1966-72, and stayed in the Top Ten for a total of 17 years. She is the only woman to win U.S. Open singles titles on all four surfaces (grass, clay, carpet, and hard) and one of only eight women to hold a singles title in each of the Grand Slam events.
In 1970, Ms. King was one of nine players to break away from the tennis establishment, leading to the formation of the Virginia Slims Tour and the Women’s Tennis Association. In 1971, she became the first woman athlete to win more than $100,000 in any sport. In one of the greatest moment in sports history, she played against, and defeated, Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes, 1973. In 1974 she became the first woman to coach a professional team with men, as the player/coach for the Philadelphia Freedoms of World Team Tennis.
Ms. King is an active member of many causes, serving as a director on several boards including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Women’s Sports Foundation. She has long been seen as a defender of equal rights for all humankind, founding the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, and the World Team Tennis Charities, Inc. in 1987. Both are meant to help better the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity, promoting health, fitness, education and social change. Ms. King is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Ms. King is one of the most illustrious and celebrated tennis players in history and is recognized for spearheading the women′′s movement in tennis and for her life-long struggle for equality in women’s tennis. 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.
In 1990, Life magazine named Billie Jean King 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.
Ms. 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 World Team Tennis Charities, Inc. to promote health, fitness, education, and social change.
In 1998, Billie Jean 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 she won the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for her fight to bring equality to women’s sports.
Off the court, Ms. 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.
Ms. King has coached Olympic and Fed Cup teams. She led the U.S. squad to four Olympic medals and the 1976, 1996, 1999 and 2000 Fed Cup titles. In 2003, she was awarded the prestigious Philippe Chatrier Award, the International Tennis Federation’s highest honor and was one of six inaugural inductees into the Court of Champions at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Tennis Center.
Billie Jean King’s biggest honor in tennis came on August 28, 2006, the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in honor of her contributions to tennis, sports and society both on and off the court. On October 17, 2006, she was honored once again when the National Sports Museum and the Women’s Sports Foundation announced that the Billie Jean King International Women’s Sports Center, the first hall of fame dedicated to women’s sports will be housed at the National Sports Museum when it opens in New York City in 2008.
Ms. King won a record 20 Wimbledon titles with six of them in singles, won the U.S. Open four times, 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. She 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.
In 1970, Billie Jean 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 led 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.
Ms. King 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, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women’s Sports Magazine.
Billie Jean King gives a speech to the Human Rights Campaign about equality and the good work the HRC has helped do: “Let’s make equality a reality. Dream big, and go for it!”
She goes on to note that, “As an athlete, I always have to have a call to action when I speak. I’d like you to think about your legacy tonight. I just want you to think about what you want to do now, how you’d like to be remembered—it doesn’t have to be macro, it can be micro. It can be anything you want it to be. I want to urge you all to continue the fight, to stand up and be heard, and to push for whatever you believe in. Whatever it is. You young people in the audience, you are the pioneers of tomorrow.”
“The more you know about history, the more you know about yourself. Each generation builds on the foundation of the previous one, stone by stone; brick by brick. So add your stones, add your bricks—you never know how you will touch someone else’s life, or how they’ll touch yours.”
Drawing on her amazing life’s story, Billie Jean King is an inspiring, engaging speaker who will entertain and inspire audiences of all types. She speaks from personal experience about overcoming adversity, creating your own business and controlling your own destiny.
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Pressure Is a Privilege: Lessons I′ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes
Billie Jean King′s victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” was a pivotal moment in gender relations for generations of American women and men. But her journey to the “Battle of the Sexes” was no accident. Now, for the first time ever, Billie Jean shares the life lessons that led to her success in that match, in sports, and in the world at large. Published in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of this monumental event, Pressure is a Privilege uses the Billie Jean King / Bobby Riggs match to illustrate what she learned in her early life that brought her to that event and the lessons that she learned from it, including:
Packed with the common-sense lessons by which Billie Jean has lived her remarkable life, as well as words of wisdom and inspirational advice for how you can use these lessons, Pressure is a Privilege is an invaluable tool for any person in any profession who wants to achieve a richer, more fulfilling life.
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