Happy Birthday, Billie Jean King!
It's not only Thanksgiving, it's MAKER Billie Jean King's birthday!
For Billie Jean King, tennis started out as a passion. Eventually, it became her life. But it wasn’t until her way of life was interrupted that she became the women’s advocate that she is today. And so today, on her birthday, we want to honor her by recognizing five of her most notable accomplishments in the world of sports.
1.) Billie Jean played tennis because she loved it. By the age of 23, King was ranked the top women’s player in the world after winning the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. But when prize money started to be associated with tournaments in 1968, she took immediate notice of the fact that women were receiving less than men. And it was King who spoke up.
2.) In 1970, after being denied admittance to the men’s tennis association, Billie Jean King and eight other players known as "The Original Nine" each signed a $1 contract with Gladys Heldman. More important than the money itself, this tennis tour signified the birth of women's professional tennis as we know it today and was a step towards equal pay for female athletes.
3.) None of the previous achievements stopped male player Bobby Riggs from challenging any female player to a match against him years later. King stepped up to represent women in “The Battle of the Sexes.” And in one of her most well-known moments, Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in three straight sets on Sep. 20, 1973. 50 million people watched that match. King had changed history.
4.) Just one year later, King became the first president of the Women’s Tennis Association.
5.) And in 1987, she was rightfully elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Happy Birthday, Billie Jean King and thank you for helping to change the world of sports for women!