|Born:||November 22, 1943 (age 78)|
American tennis player, activist, and world leader in the world of sports, Bille Jean King was one of the greatest female tennis champions of all time, winning 67 professional titles, including 20 titles at Wimbledon.
King was the first player to lobby for, and attain, equal prize money for women within sports competitions. King was one of the founders of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation. Her accomplishments include being the first female sports commissioner in history, the first woman to have a major sports venue named after her, and being known as the first famous, female athlete to come out publically as being gay.
King participated in and won the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match that took place on September 20, 1973, at the Houston Astrodome. The “Battle” proved that women are able to win a physical competition against men; thus, springboarding the stance that women should be paid equal to men into the national media spotlight.
After retiring from tennis, King continued to fight for women’s pay equality, women’s rights within sports and the protection of LGBTQA+ rights. King was the first female athlete awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Later that year, King became a board member of the Women’s Sports Foundation and is serving as the acting director for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National AIDS Fund.
In recent years, King was appointed Global Mentor for Gender Equality by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). King was also appointed by President Barack Obama as one of two gay delegates to represent the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. King also attended the FIFA Women’s Football and Leadership Conference to lobby for equal pay amongst female and male football (soccer) players.