Within her career, she fought for equal prize money for women and even went as far as to take on the men’s former number #1 player, Bobby Riggs, in the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match, portrayed in the popular 2017 movie.
But Billie Jean King’s influence and accomplishments extend far beyond what was detailed in that “Battle of the Sexes” film:
- In 1966 Billie Jean achieved the title of #1 women’s tennis player in the world. She held that title for five additional years (1967-1968, 171-1972, and 1974).
- Between 1961 and 1979, Billie Jean won 20 Wimbledon titles, 13 U.S. Open Titles, 4 French Open Titles, and 2 Australian Open titles. Yes, that’s a whopping 39 Grand Slam titles!
- In 1971, Billie Jean became the first female athlete to earn over $100,000 in prize money.
- In 1973 she became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association and lobbied the U.S. Open to become the first major to offer equal prize money for both genders.
- In 1974, Billie Jean founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, dedicated to creating leaders by providing girls access to sports.
- In 1981, Billie Jean was publicly outed as a lesbian, and as a result, she lost all of her endorsement deals. Yet, she remained a fierce advocate within the public eye.
- On August 12, 2009, Billie Jean was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama for her advocacy work on behalf of women and the LGBTQ community.
- In 2014, she founded the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the critical issues required to achieve diverse, inclusive leadership in the workforce.
Today, she still remains completely dedicated to advancing the rights of women--even assisting the champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team in achieving pay equal to that of the men’s team.
Billie Jean King’s commitment to activism, love and her courage to fight the norm with grace and fortitude makes her a hero to us here at AD LOVE.
She’s famous for her wise quotes and we want to share a few of our favorites with you in hopes that they spark inspiration: