#LGBTInnovators - Former American No.1 Tennis Player Billie Jean King
3rd February 2016
Billie Jean King (born 1943) is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles.
King often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, King was the United States’ captain in the Federation Cup.
An advocate for gender equality, In 1973, at age 29, King won the so-called Battle of the Sexes tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs, and was the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, World Team Tennis (with former husband Larry King), and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
King has received many sports and achievement awards over her career. In 1990 she was inducted into the American Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Speaking about her experiences of coming out, King said ‘It was very hard on me because I was outed and I think you have to do it in your own time. Fifty percent of gay people know who they are by the age of 13, I was in the other 50%. At the age of 51, I was finally able to talk about it properly with my parents and no longer did I have to measure my words with them. That was a turning point for me as it meant I didn’t have regrets any more.’
‘Champions keep playing until they get it right.’ Billie Jean King
Leap Sports is spotlighting #LGBTInnovators in sport throughout LGBT History Month this February. We will celebrate a different LGBTI innovator in sport each day. LGBTI sports innovators include athletes, competitors, coaches, managers, community members, founders or co-ordinators of sports groups, someone passionate about their sport.
Got an LGBTI innovator in sport that you would like to shine a light on?
Use your imagination and join the conversation using the hashtag #LGBTInnovators on Twitter @Leapsports and Facebook facebook.com/leapsports
Find out more about LGBT History Month at www.lgbthistory.org.uk