Billie Jean King Fast Facts

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Here is a look at the life of tennis champion and LGBTQ activist Billie Jean King.

Birth date: November 22, 1943

Birth place: Long Beach, California

Birth name: Billie Jean Moffitt

Father: Willard J. Moffitt, engineer for a fire department

Mother: Betty Moffitt, Avon sales representative

Marriage: Ilana Kloss (October 18, 2018-present); Larry King (September 17, 1965-1987, divorced)

Education: Attended Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles), 1961-1964

Has won 39 Grand Slam championships overall in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, including 12 Grand Slam singles titles.

Is the founder and first president of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

Threatened to boycott the 1973 US Open if equal prize money was not awarded. The fight she started for equal pay in the Grand Slams took 34 years to reach fruition when Wimbledon became the last of the four to fall into line in 2007.

She remained friends with “Battle of the Sexes” opponent Bobby Riggs off the court until his death from prostate cancer in 1995.

READ MORE: What you should know about tennis champ Billie Jean King

1959 – Makes her tennis debut.

1961 – Wins her first Wimbledon title, in doubles with Karen Hautze.

1966 – Wins her first Wimbledon singles title.

1966-1968, 1972, 1973, 1975 – Wimbledon singles champion.

1967, 1971-1972, 1974 – US Open singles champion.

1968 – Australian Open singles champion.

1971 – Becomes the first female athlete to win $100,000 in a single year.

1972 – French Open singles champion.

1972 – Wins the US Open and threatens to bow out the following year if the prize money for the men and women is not equal.

1973 – The US Open becomes the first major tournament to award equal prize money to men and women.

June 30, 1973 – Establishes the WTA.

September 20, 1973 – At 29, wins the “Battle of the Sexes” match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, at the Houston Astrodome against 55-year-old Riggs. King earns the $100,000 winner-take-all prize.

1973-1975, 1980-1981 – President of WTA.

1974 – Is a founding partner, along with her husband Larry, of World Team Tennis, a competitive co-ed circuit league. She also helps establish the Women’s Sports Foundation.

May 2, 1981 – Acknowledges that she is a lesbian after Marilyn Barnett files a palimony lawsuit against her. She becomes one of the first professional athletes to publicly disclose her homosexuality.

1984 – Retires from professional tennis.

2006 – The United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, is rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The Center is the home of the US Open.

August 12, 2009 – Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

December 17, 2013 – Is named to the US delegation for the opening ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia by President Barack Obama. She later withdraws due to her mother’s illness.

2014 – Establishes the non-profit, Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative.

February 15, 2014 – King is named as part of the presidential delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Russia, after having to withdraw from the opening ceremonies.

September 22, 2017 – The film “Battle of the Sexes,” opens. The film is about King’s 1973 tennis match victory over Riggs.

January 12, 2018 – Calls for the Australian Open’s Margaret Court Arena to be renamed because of the Melbourne Park champion’s views on homosexuality. During a media conference King states, “I was fine until she said lately so many derogatory things about my community. I’m a gay woman … that really went deep in my heart and soul.”

September 21, 2019 – The city of Long Beach, California, opens the Billie Jean King Main Library. The building is located in the new $533 million Civic Center. The City Council voted unanimously to name the building after the famous native.

September 17, 2020 – The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announces that the Fed Cup, an international women’s tennis team competition, has been renamed the Billie Jean King Cup.

August 17, 2021 King’s memoir, “All In: An Autobiography,” is published.

February 13, 2022 – King serves as the Honorary Coin Toss Captain for Super Bowl LVI and flips the ceremonial coin ahead of kickoff, helping the NFL mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX.

June 3, 2022 – French President Emmanuel Macron presents King with the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award.

November 7, 2022 – In an interview with CNN, King reveals her “pet peeve” is Wimbledon’s “horrible” all white uniform policy. The next day in a statement to CNN, the All-England Tennis Club (AELTC) says: “Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.”

October 18, 2023 – King is revealed to be a contestant on season 10 of the show “The Masked Singer.”


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