Tennis Hall of Famer and Sports Speaker Billie Jean King is known for her triumphs on and off the court. In an era where female athletes were fighting to prove themselves worthy to compete in the world of sports, Billie Jean King was the leader of the pack, making it her mission for women to earn equal prize money as men who won the US Open. In a legendary tennis match called “Battle of the Sexes”, Billie Jean got her chance to prove that women were a force to be reckoned with. Jean went up against male tennis champion Bobby Riggs, who publicly stated his opinion that Women’s Tennis was inferior. The event attracted substantial publicity and with an international television audience of over fifty million viewers, Billie Jean King made history, defeating Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and becoming the first female to win the $100,000 prize money. In 2008, Billie Jean King gave readers an inside look of the monumental event from her perspective when she published her book, Pressure is a Privilege: Lessons I’ve Learned from Life and the Battle of the Sexes. In her career as a professional tennis player, King won thirty nine Grand Slam titles and continues to be an inspiration to the sport to this day.
As one of the most well-known advocates for sexuality equality, Billie Jean King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women’s Tennis Association, and World TeamTennis. For her courageous achievements and never-give-up attitude, Billie Jean has received countless accolades including being named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, the first female athlete to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year, and being named one of the 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century by Life magazine. She also received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. For the 2013 Winter Olympics, President Barack Obama, appointed King to represent the United States in Sochi, Russia, but due to her mother’s ill health she dropped out. In 2014, King was named one of ESPNW’s Impact 25.