Billie Jean King

Billie Jean Moffit was born on November 22, 1943, in Long Beach, California. In her early years she was an exceptional softball player, but Billie Jean knew that there was no significant future for a woman in softball. Her parents introduced her to tennis, the game that would change her life and the lives of other women.

In 1967, Billie Jean King was selected as Outstanding Female Athlete of the World. In 1972, she was named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, the first woman to be so honored; and in 1973, she was dubbed Female Athlete of the Year.

Billie Jean King is the first female athlete to win over $100,000 prize money in a single season. She has spoken out for women and their right to earn comparable money in tennis and other sports. Her constant lobbying and commitments have broken many barriers.

Billie Jean King established the first successful women’s professional tennis tour. She founded tennis clinics for underprivileged children. For her contributions to tennis as President of Tennis-America, King was awarded the National Service Bowl.

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.

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.

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.

Following her divorce from Larry in 1987, Billie Jean found lasting love with Ilana Kloss. The couple resides in New York City. Billie Jean and Ilana remain close friends with Larry and his family.

Her tireless efforts to fight injustice and discrimination worldwide continue today.