Ezmeralda Arango

Written by Ezmeralda Arango

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Source: Nytimes.com

Billie Jean King is a legendary figure in the world of tennis. Known for her exceptional talent and groundbreaking achievements, she has left an indelible mark on the sport. In addition to her prowess on the tennis court, Billie Jean King has also been an influential advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ+ rights. With her iconic victory over Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes” and her tireless efforts to promote equal pay for female athletes, King has become an inspirational figure for generations. In this article, we will explore 13 fascinating facts about Billie Jean King, shedding light on her remarkable career and the impact she continues to have on society.

Key Takeaways:

  • Billie Jean King was a tennis superstar who won 39 Grand Slam titles and fought for gender equality in sports, inspiring future generations of athletes and advocates.
  • She faced challenges, broke barriers, and paved the way for women in sports, leaving a legacy of courage, determination, and advocacy that continues to inspire millions.
Table of Contents

Early Life and Tennis Beginnings

Billie Jean King was born on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California. She discovered her passion for tennis at the age of 11 when she first picked up a racket.

Record-Breaking Tennis Career

King had an exceptional tennis career, winning 39 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles events. She dominated the sport throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Battle of the Sexes

In 1973, Billie Jean King faced Bobby Riggs in the iconic “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match. She emerged as the victor, solidifying her position as a pioneer for gender equality in sports.

Founding the Women’s Tennis Association

In 1973, King played a pivotal role in establishing the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), the global governing body for women’s professional tennis.

Social Activism

King was a strong advocate for gender and LGBTQ+ rights. She fought for equal prize money for women in tennis and was instrumental in shaping the future of the sport.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Billie Jean King the Presidential Medal of Freedom, recognizing her contributions to society and her groundbreaking achievements in tennis.

The Battle of the Sexes Movie

In 2017, a biographical sports film called “Battle of the Sexes” was released, chronicling the famous match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

Philanthropy and Leadership

King has dedicated her life to philanthropy and leadership roles. She founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and has been a voice for equality in sports for decades.

Hall of Fame Induction

In 2000, Billie Jean King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, cementing her status as one of the greatest tennis players in history.

Legacy as a Trailblazer

Billie Jean King’s legacy extends far beyond her accomplishments on the tennis court. She broke barriers and paved the way for future generations of female athletes.

Life as an Author

King is also a published author. She has written several books, including “Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes.”

Olympic Gold Medalist

King won a total of four Olympic gold medals throughout her career, including three in women’s doubles and one in mixed doubles.

Inspiration to Millions

Billie Jean King’s influence extends far beyond the world of sports. Her courage, determination, and advocacy have inspired millions of individuals around the globe.


In conclusion, these 13 facts about Billie Jean King highlight the remarkable achievements and impact of this tennis legend. From her groundbreaking contributions to women’s sports and gender equality, to her numerous records and accolades, King’s legacy extends far beyond the tennis court. Her determination, perseverance, and activism have made her an inspiration to athletes and advocates around the world. As a trailblazer in the fight for equal pay and opportunities for women in sports, King’s influence continues to reverberate today. Her passion for promoting diversity and inclusion serves as a testament to the power of individuals to shape and transform society. Billie Jean King’s remarkable journey demonstrates that with a strong will and tireless dedication, anyone can leave an indelible mark on the world.


Q: What were Billie Jean King’s major accomplishments in tennis?

A: Billie Jean King achieved a multitude of accomplishments during her tennis career. She won a total of 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles.

Q: How did Billie Jean King contribute to gender equality in sports?

A: Billie Jean King was instrumental in advancing gender equality in sports. She founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and successfully campaigned for equal prize money for men and women in tennis tournaments.

Q: What is Billie Jean King’s impact on the LGBTQ+ community?

A: Billie Jean King came out as a lesbian in 1981, becoming one of the first prominent athletes to do so. Her openness and advocacy have since made her an icon and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

Q: Has Billie Jean King received any awards or recognition for her contributions?

A: Yes, Billie Jean King has received numerous awards and recognition throughout her career. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many other prestigious accolades.

Q: What is Billie Jean King’s involvement in activism?

A: Billie Jean King has been a vocal and active advocate for various causes, including gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and social justice. She has used her platform to fight for equality and empower marginalized communities.

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