billie jean king biographie

King is the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. In 1970, she joined the brand-new Virginia Slims Tour for women, and in 1971, she became the first female athlete to top $100,000 in prize money in a single year. She divorced her husband in 1987 and settled into a long-term relationship with former player Ilana Kloss. Afterward, King acknowledged the pressure she felt that day. Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs during a press conference for their “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, 1973. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. In 1973 she beat the aging Bobby Riggs in a much-publicized “Battle of the Sexes” match. 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. But King was all business once the match started, and she handily beat Riggs in straight sets before an estimated television audience of 90 million viewers. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). However, her parents suggested she try a more "ladylike" sport, and at age 11, she began to play tennis on the Long Beach public courts. The first prominent woman athlete to admit her homosexuality, King lost her endorsements but became a torchbearer for the LGBT community. Bill earned a tryout for an NBA team before becoming a firefighter and Betty was an accomplished swimmer. She married law student Larry King in 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. was a scholar and minister who led the civil rights movement. American tennis great Billie Jean King broke down barriers by pushing for equal prize money for women and becoming one of the first well-known openly gay athletes. Yet when she won the U.S. Open in 1972, she received $15,000 less than the men’s champion, Ilie Năstase. "use strict";(function(){var insertion=document.getElementById("citation-access-date");var date=new Date().toLocaleDateString(undefined,{month:"long",day:"numeric",year:"numeric"});insertion.parentElement.replaceChild(document.createTextNode(date),insertion)})(); Subscribe to the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. Her father mentioned tennis, and shortly afterward, Billie Jean was introduced to the sport by her friend, Susan Williams. In 1970, she joined the Virginia Slims Tour for women, and in 1971, King became the first woman athlete to earn over $100,000 in prize money. She then began to play softball, and as a 10-year-old, played shortstop on a 14U team that won the city championship. The following year, Billie Jean went on to co-found the inclusive World TeamTennis co-ed circuit and started the Women’s Sports Foundation, dedicated to creating leaders by providing girls access to sports. The first prominent female athlete to admit her homosexuality, King continued her work as an influential social activist after retiring from tennis. Off the court, Billie Jean campaigned for equal prize money in the men’s and women’s games. In that same year King admitted to having had a homosexual affair with her former secretary, who was suing King for material support. She soon realized, though, that the standards for young women playing the game were different than those for young men. The Moffitt family was athletic. While attending California State University, Los Angeles, from 1961 to 1964, King continued to compete in tournaments and also worked as a tennis instructor to make ends meet. She published two autobiographies, Billie Jean (1974; with Kim Chapin) and The Autobiography of Billie Jean King (1982; with Frank Deford), as well as We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women’s Tennis (1988; with Cynthia Starr) and Pressure Is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes (2008; with Christine Brennan). Billie Jean King became the top-ranked women's tennis player by 1967. In 1973, she formed the Women's Tennis Association and famously defeated Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes." Billie Jean King, née Billie Jean Moffitt, (born November 22, 1943, Long Beach, California, U.S.), American tennis player whose influence and playing style elevated the status of women’s professional tennis beginning in the late 1960s. In 2009 King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Billie Jean King during her “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs at the Houston Astrodome, September 20, 1973. Never shy about speaking her mind, King jolted the tennis establishment with her views that the sport needed to shed its country-club image and offer equal payouts to both genders. She was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, and then later became the first woman to have a major sports venue named in her honor. She first attracted international attention in 1961 by winning the Wimbledon doubles championship with Karen Hantz; theirs was the youngest team to win. https://www.biography.com/athlete/billie-jean-king. Stephen King is a 'New York Times'-bestselling novelist who made his name in the horror and fantasy genres with books like 'Carrie,' 'The Shining' and 'IT.' Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. But she simmered over the smaller paychecks earned by her peers. Althea Gibson was the first African American tennis player to compete at the U.S. National Championships in 1950, and the first Black player to compete at Wimbledon in 1951. However, after achieving mixed results in several of the competitions, King realized that she would need to step up her practice schedule if she wanted to reach her full potential, and she embarked on an exhaustive training regimen and worked on sharpening her fundamentals. A decade later, in 1981, Billie Jean was publicly outed as a lesbian, and as a result, she lost all of her endorsement deals. In so doing, King became the most prominent female athlete to have come out as a lesbian at that time, but she subsequently lost all her endorsement contracts as a result. Embracing the spectacle of the event, King entered the court in a gold litter carried by four muscular men, while Riggs rolled in on a rickshaw pulled by a team of women called "Bobby's Bosom Buddies." Her efforts paid off in 1966, when she won her first major singles championship at Wimbledon. Billie Jean emerged as a talent to watch when in 1958, she won her age bracket in the Southern California championship. In her career she won 39 major titles, competing in both singles and doubles. The following year, King and her husband, Larry King, founded the World TeamTennis (WTT) co-ed circuit. Her tireless efforts to fight injustice and discrimination worldwide continue today. "It would ruin the women's tour and affect all women's self-esteem. Updates? The United States Tennis Association honoured King in August 2006, when it renamed the National Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. She lobbied for equal prize money for men and women at the U.S. Open, and a sponsor was found to level the playing field. King remained active in tennis and since the mid-1990s served as coach for several Olympic and Federation Cup teams; in 2020 the Federation Cup was renamed the Billie Jean King Cup. The U.S. Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to both sexes. Known for her lightning-fast speed, forceful net game, and fierce backhand, Billie Jean’s tennis championship titles are only half her story. Following her divorce from Larry in 1987, Billie Jean found lasting love with Ilana Kloss. The 55-year-old Riggs had assumed an overtly chauvinistic public persona to bait the sport’s top women into playing him, and after he easily defeated multi-time champion Margaret Court in the "Mother's Day Massacre" of May 1973, he secured King as his next opponent. After his assassination, he was memorialized by Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Bobby Riggs was an American tennis champion best known for facing women's star Billie Jean King in the 1973 'Battle of the Sexes.'. American tennis great Billie Jean King broke down barriers by pushing for equal prize money for women and becoming one of the first well-known openly gay athletes. Billie Jean had realized that she was interested in women, and had begun a secret relationship with a woman in the early 1970s. Their second child, Randy, became a Major League Baseball pitcher. No tennis match before or since has been seen by so many. King's early sport was softball; at age 10, she played shortstop on a team of 14- and 15-year-old girls that won the city championship. She began to play on Long Beach’s public courts using a racquet she purchased herself with money earned from odd jobs. In 1972, she won the U.S. Open, French Open and Wimbledon to claim three Grand Slam titles in one year. The saga had previously been dramatized in the 2001 TV Movie When Billie Beat Bobby, which featured Holly Hunter as the women's tennis champ and Ron Silver as her opponent. She continued to play WTA doubles matches sporadically, until retiring for good in 1990. She was perhaps one of the greatest doubles players in the history of tennis, winning 27 major titles. The story of the 1973 King-Riggs match spawned the 2017 feature film Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs. In 1959, Billie Jean turned pro, and former women’s tennis great Alice Marble became her coach. Between 1961 and 1979, Billie Jean won a record 20 Wimbledon titles, 13 United States titles (including four singles), four French titles (one singles), and two Australian titles (one singles) for a total of 39 Grand Slam titles. Much of his work has been adapted for film and TV. She held the #1 ranking for five additional years (1967-1968, 1971-1972, and 1974). The match took place on September 20, 1973, at the Houston Astrodome. We strive for accuracy and fairness. While participating in a tournament at the Los Angeles Tennis Club in 1955, Billie Jean was barred from a group picture of junior tennis players because she wore the tennis shorts her mother made her instead of the tennis dress traditionally worn by female athletes. In 2006, the New York City facility that hosts the U.S. Open was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in her honor. King's accomplishments have gone beyond the world of tennis. King served as the player-coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, thus becoming one of the first women to coach professional male athletes. Corrections? She took this injustice and used it as fuel to power both her game and her future social advocacy. As player-coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms, she was one of the first women to coach professional male athletes. Renowned for her speed, net game and backhand shot, King was a regular presence in the winner's circle in singles, doubles and mixed-doubles tournaments over the next few years. A board member of the Women’s Sports Foundation, which she formed during her playing days, she has also served as acting director for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National AIDS Fund. Billie Jean King, née Billie Jean Moffitt, (born November 22, 1943, Long Beach, California, U.S.), American tennis player whose influence and playing style elevated the status of women’s professional tennis beginning in the late 1960s. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The film drew generally strong reviews, with both Stone and Carell earning Golden Globe nominations for their performances. To these accomplishments, she added her first U.S. Open singles championship in 1967 and the Australian Open singles title the following year. He is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol. Billie Jean’s first sport was basketball. For all her tennis accomplishments, Billie Jean King is probably best known for her 1973 match against former men's champion Bobby Riggs, dubbed the "Battle of the Sexes." She went on to successfully defend that title in each of the following two years, and added her first U.S. Open singles championship in 1967 and her only Australian Open triumph the following year. She attended California State University, Los Angeles from 1961 to 1964, and continued to compete in tournaments while also working as a tennis instructor. From the moment she put the racquet on the ball, Billie Jean knew what she wanted to do with her life. Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. In 1966, Billie Jean King achieved the goal she set for herself as a young girl when she was ranked #1 in the world in women’s tennis. Our latest podcast episode features popular TED speaker Mara Mintzer. The couple resides in New York City. The Moffitt family was athletic. She followed up with repeat wins in 1967 and 1968. Billie Jean’s brother Randy, born in 1948, pitched for 11 years for several Major League Baseball teams: San Francisco Giants (1972-1981), Houston Astros (1982), and the Toronto Blue Jays (1983.). Soon after, Billie Jean began an intense training regimen so she could maximize her potential. The Moffitts were an athletic family: Bill was offered a tryout for an NBA team before becoming a firefighter, and Betty, a homemaker, was an excellent swimmer. Susan took her to a country club, where Billie Jean played for the first time. “I am going to be No. Her efforts paid off in 1966, when she won her first major singles championship at Wimbledon. The WTT folded after 1978 because of financial losses, but King revived the competition in 1981. She went on to capture a record 20 Wimbledon titles (singles 1966–68, 1972–73, and 1975; women’s doubles 1961–62, 1965, 1967–68, 1970–73, and 1979; mixed doubles 1967, 1971, and 1973–74), in addition to U.S. singles (1967, 1971–72, and 1974), French singles (1972), and the Australian title (1968); her Wimbledon record was tied by Martina Navratilova in 2003. In 2019, the Long Beach, California City Council honored Billie Jean, a native of Long Beach, by naming its new library the Billie Jean King Main Library. American singer and songwriter Carole King has written or co-written over 400 songs that have been recorded by more than 1,000 artists. 1 in the world,” Billie Jean told her mother. King retired from competitive tennis in 1984 and the same year became the first woman commissioner in professional sports in her position with the World TeamTennis League. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Billie-Jean-King, National Women's History Museum - Billie Jean King and the Battle of the Sexes, International Tennis Hall of Fame - Biography of Billie Jean King, California Museum - Biography of Billie Jean King, Billie Jean King - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), Billie Jean King - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). She pushed relentlessly for the rights of women players, helped to form a separate women’s tour, and obtained financial backing from commercial sponsors. © 2020 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. She followed up with repeat wins in 1967 and 1968. The USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY, home of the US Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, was rededicated as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 28, 2006. Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s. While she was experiencing incredible success in her professional life, her personal life was about to come under national scrutiny. Reverend Bernice A. King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. 2017 - 2020 © Billie Jean King Enterprises, Billie Jean’s brother Randy, born in 1948, pitched for 11 years for several Major League Baseball teams: San Francisco Giants (1972-1981), Houston Astros (1982), and the Toronto Blue Jays (1983.). King was born Billie Jean Moffitt on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California, to parents Bill and Betty. In the meantime, she remained a force in doubles for many years, winning Wimbledon in 1979 and the U.S. Open in 1980. In 1961, Billie Jean gained international recognition for the first time when she and Karen Hantze Susman became the youngest pair to win the Wimbledon women’s doubles title. On August 12, 2009, she 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. Yet through it all, her crusade against inequality in all forms never waned, and she continued to receive recognition for her many contributions to both tennis and the fight for parity. Billie Jean Moffitt King set a record for career Wimbledon titles, winning 6 singles, 10 doubles, and 4 mixed between 1961 and 1979.…. In 1972, she won the U.S. Open, French Open, and Wimbledon to claim three Grand Slam titles in one year. After her divorce from Larry King, she publicly embraced her homosexuality and became an advocate for gay rights. Jump onto the court to test your knowledge of tennis players, tournaments, and history with this quiz. As she entered fifth grade, she asked her father what sports she could play to continue to achieve success. ", READ MORE: How Billie Jean King Made Women's Sports History During the 'Battle of the Sexes'. In her career she won 39 major titles, competing in both singles and doubles. In 1958, King emerged as a talent to watch when she won the Southern California championship for her age bracket, and in 1959, she started to receive coaching from former women's tennis great Alice Marble. King and her husband, Larry King (married 1965–87), were part of a group that founded World TeamTennis (WTT) in 1974. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Game, set…tennis! Billie Jean Moffitt was born on November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California to parents Bill, a firefighter, and Betty, a homemaker. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! The young athlete set the bar high for her tennis game. She was inducted into the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1990. The match set a record for the largest tennis audience and the largest purse awarded up to that time. In 1973, at the height of her competitive years, Billie Jean leveraged her position to spearhead the formation of the Women’s Tennis Association and became its first president. Named to the U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, King embraced the designation that both honored her athletic achievements and made a political statement in opposition of Russia's anti-gay legislation. She is chief executive officer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. Altogether, King won 39 major singles, doubles and mixed doubles championships, including a record 20 at Wimbledon. King turned professional after 1968 and became the first woman athlete to win more than $100,000 in one season (1971). Named to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, King remained closely tied to the sport throughout the 1990s as a television commentator. She has been honored by an array of organizations, notably earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. 1 ranking in women's tennis, King turned professional. The campaign for pay equality gained a worldwide audience of over 90 million when Billie Jean battled tennis player and self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes.” Bobby had claimed the women’s game was inferior to the men’s and Billie accepted his challenge to prove him wrong. In 1973, King spearheaded the formation of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA). King announced her retirement from singles play after winning Wimbledon in 1975, but she resumed singles competition two years later and continued through 1983. Billie Jean King Biography. "I thought it would set us back 50 years if I didn't win that match," she said. In 1968, having claimed the world's No. After a few years of promising play, King won her first major singles championship at Wimbledon in 1966. The budding tennis star married Larry King in 1965 but soon found herself wrestling with her feelings for other women. With her victories in 1967, she was the first woman since 1938 to sweep the U.S. and British singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles in a single year. Billie Jean King. She was one of the founders and the first president (1974) of the Women’s Tennis Association. Her private affairs were thrust into public view with a lawsuit brought by her former female personal assistant and lover in 1981. Leveraging her position as its most celebrated player, she threatened a boycott of the 1973 U.S. Open if the pay inequality was not addressed. Coretta Scott King was an American civil rights activist and the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Omissions? (Her secretary lost the lawsuit.) Billie Jean and Ilana remain close friends with Larry and his family. After a series of losses to top-seeded players in various competitions around the country, King made sports headlines for the first time in 1961, when she and Karen Hantze Susman became the youngest pair to win the Wimbledon women's doubles title. Bill earned a tryout for an NBA team before becoming a firefighter and Betty was an accomplished swimmer. King was athletically inclined from an early age. Between 1961 and 1979, Billie Jean won a record 20 Wimbledon titles, 13 United States titles (including four singles), four French titles (one singles), and two Australian titles (one singles) for a total of 39 Grand Slam titles. Her demands met, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to offer equal prize money to women and men. When a mostly white jury acquitted the police officers who were caught on video beating Rodney King, it set off the L.A. riots of 1992. She also served as captain of the U.S. team at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.

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