Awarded: April 2000
(b. Sept. 16, 1925)
Billie Jean King began playing tennis as a young girl and at the age of 18 defeated Margaret Smith Court–the world’s leading women’s tennis player–at Wimbledon. She went on to become one of the most successful players in the history of the Wimbledon tournament. She was also very successful at the United States championships. King was an advocate for equal treatment for women in sports. She played and defeated Bobby Riggs in an exhibition match in 1973, proving that women could compete with men in athletics. She founded the Women’s Tennis Association and helped establish the Women’s Sports Foundation. After retiring, she worked as a coach and a television commentator.