Billie Jean King Birthday Special: Lesser-Known Facts About the American Tennis Legend and a Pioneer of Women’s Sports

Team Latestly
·3-min read

Tennis legend and 39-time Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King celebrates her 77th birthday on November 22, 2020 (Sunday). King, a former American Tennis player and women’s No 1, is celebrated as a pioneer in women’s sports, gender equality and social justice. She is also regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all-time. Jean remains the only women to have won the US Open title in four different surfaces. In 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center was renamed to USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to honour her for her contribution to tennis, sports in general, society and women’s sports. As she celebrates her 77th birthday, take a look at some of the lesser-known facts about her. Serena Williams Reveals What ‘Went Wrong’ on Way to Meeting Daughter Olympia.

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Born in 1943 in an athletic family, Jean King took to sports at a young age and excelled at baseball and softball. But she had to shift to tennis at the age of 11 after her parents suggested she play a more ‘ladylike sport.’ She turned professional 1959 and won her first Grand Slam title in 1961 in women’s doubles at Wimbledon. Billie Jean King completed a career Grand Slam in 1972 after winning the French Open. King won 20 career titles at Wimbledon – six singles titles, 10 in women’s doubles and four in mixed doubles. Take a look at some interesting facts about Billie Jean King. Jannik Sinner, 19-Year-Old, Becomes Youngest in 12 Years to Clinch ATP Title.

  • Billie Jean Moffitt was born to Bill and Betty in Long Beach, California on November 22, 1943

  • She took up tennis at the age of 11 even though she had excelled in baseball and softball after her parents suggested she play a more ‘ladylike sport’

  • Jean King was denied a college scholarship despite excelling in tennis as she was a female

  • Billie Jean King won 39 grand slam titles in her career, 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles

  • She was engaged to Larry King during her school days at the age of 19 and married him later in 1965

  • In 1972, Billie Jean King was named as the ‘Sportsperson of the Year’ making her the first female athlete to be honoured with the title

  • She founded the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in 1973 and the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974

  • In the same year, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of Sexes in what remains one of the greatest moment in sports’ history

  • Billie Jean King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987 for her contribution to tennis and for pioneering women’s professional tennis

  • Billie Jean King was honoured with the renaming of the USTA National Tennis Center after her name in 2006

  • In 2009, Billie Jean King was awarded the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour making her the first female athlete to be honoured with the award

  • She also acted in several movies like ‘Law & Order’, ‘The Odd Couple’, ‘Ugly Betty’ and 'Fresh off the Boat’

King ended her tennis career with 129 singles titles, 12 in Grand Slams and 78 WTA titles. In addition to 12 Grand Slams in singles, King also won 16 majors in women’s doubles and 11 Grand Slams in mixed doubles. She was also part of seven Fed Cup-winning teams as a player and three more as a non-playing captain.

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